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UNIFIL mandate extended as US envoy visits Lebanon

US envoy Amos Hochstein met with Lebanese officials to follow up on the maritime border agreement with Israel that allowed offshore gas exploration in Lebanese waters and to likely discuss UNIFIL's extension.
Lebanon's parliament speaker, Nabih Berri (R), receives Amos Hochstein, the US special presidential coordinator for global infrastructure and energy security, Beirut, August 30, 2023.

BEIRUT — The United Nations Security Council voted on Thursday to extend its peacekeeping mission in Lebanon for another year following a compromise between France, the United States and the United Arab Emirates on language about the freedom of movement of the UN force. 

"In a compromise with the United States and the UAE, France added back in text from last year's council resolution — which it had deleted — that demands all parties allow 'announced and unannounced patrols' by UN troops," Reuters reported. France's initial draft mandated that UNIFIL — stationed in Lebanon since 1978 — coordinate with the Lebanese government on its movements. This language was kept in the final resolution, yet with the addition on unhindered movement for the force.

The extension comes as US envoy Amos Hochstein arrived in Beirut on Wednesday for a two-day visit to discuss a range of issues, including the US-mediated maritime border agreement reached between Israel and Lebanon last year, according to a statement by the US embassy in Beirut.

Israel invaded Lebanon up to the Litani River in 1978, three years into the Lebanese civil war. Shortly thereafter, the UN Security Council established UNIFIL to oversee the withdrawal of Israeli forces. UNIFIL has since been repeatedly strengthened, and it now has some 10,500 troops patrolling the border area, the site of frequent tensions and friction between Iran-backed Hezbollah militia and Israeli forces.

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