Lebanon blasts Israel over oil exploration near border

Lebanon's oil minister has vowed Beirut will go ahead in its oil and gas exploration tender near its maritime border with Israel despite Israeli claims to the field.

Cesar Abi Khalil told The Associated Press on Thursday that Israel's defense minister's comments in which he said the explorations are taking place in a gas field "which is by all accounts ours" are a new aggression against Lebanon.

Abi Khalil said Lebanon has demarcated its maritime border and informed the United Nations about it.

In December, the Lebanese Cabinet approved licenses for three international companies to carry out exploratory drilling off the Lebanese coast.

The licenses will allow Italy's Eni, France's Total and Russia's Novatek, who bid for two of Lebanon's 10 offshore blocks, to determine whether oil and gas exist.