World Lebanon, Israel talks resume over maritime border

12:20  04 may  2021
12:20  04 may  2021 Source:   afp.com

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NAQOURA, Lebanon (AP) — After a nearly six-month pause, Lebanon and Israel on Tuesday resumed indirect talks with U.S. mediation over their disputed maritime border . The resumption comes after a new U.S. administration took over . Lebanon has sunk deeper into it economic and financial crisis that started in late 2019 — a culmination of decades of corruption and mismanagement by the political class. The small Mediterranean country is eager to resolve the border dispute with Israel , paving the way for potential lucrative oil and gas deals.

Lebanon and Israel held a short opening round of indirect talks over their disputed maritime border on Wednesday, breaking up after an hour with Lebanese state media reporting a second round to be held on October 28. The talks mark a “first step in the thousand-mile march towards the demarcation” of the maritime frontier, Brigadier General Bassam Yassin was quoted as saying in a statement issued after the session. “Based on the higher interests of our country, we are looking to achieve a pace of negotiations that would allow us to conclude this dossier within reasonable time.”

Lebanon and Israel resumed US-mediated negotiations over their disputed maritime border on Tuesday after a months-long hiatus, in efforts to clear the way for offshore oil and gas exploration.

a ship in a body of water: The land and water border area beetween Lebanon and Israel is monitored by UN peacekeeping mission UNIFIL © Mahmoud ZAYYAT The land and water border area beetween Lebanon and Israel is monitored by UN peacekeeping mission UNIFIL

The talks, between countries still technically at war, kicked off at the UN base in the town of Naqura in southern Lebanon, the National News Agency said.

Washington said Friday they were to be brokered by US diplomat John Desrocher, and called the resumption of talks "a positive step towards a long-awaited resolution".

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Israel and Lebanon resumed U.S.-mediated talks on Wednesday over their disputed Mediterranean Sea border , that has held up hydrocarbon exploration in the potentially gas-rich area, a source and Lebanon 's state news agency said. Israel already pumps gas from huge offshore fields but Lebanon , which has yet to find commercial gas reserves in its own waters, is desperate for cash from foreign donors as it faces the worst economic crisis since its 1975-1990 civil war. The meetings are the culmination of three years of diplomacy by Washington, and follow a series of deals under which three

Lebanon and Israel are to hold talks to end a long-running maritime border dispute between the two countries, which remain formally at war. The speaker of the Lebanese parliament said a "framework" had been agreed for the negotiations, which will take place under the auspices of the UN. Israel 's energy minister said the talks would begin after mid-October. The US welcomed what it called an "historic agreement" following almost three years of mediation. "This offers the potential for greater stability, security, and prosperity for citizens in both nations," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted.

Lebanon and Israel last year took part in indirect US-brokered talks to discuss demarcation.

But those talks stalled after Lebanon demanded a larger area, including part of the Karish gas field, where Israel has given exploration rights to a Greek firm.

The talks last year were supposed to discuss a Lebanese demand for 860 square kilometres (330 square miles) of territory in the disputed maritime area, according to a map sent to the United Nations in 2011.

But Lebanon then said the map was based on erroneous calculations and demanded 1,430 square kilometres (552 square miles) more territory further south, including part of Karish.

"The discussion will start from where we left it off," a source at the Lebanese presidency told AFP on Tuesday.

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BEIRUT, Lebanon — Lebanon and Israel kicked off their first negotiations in 30 years on nonsecurity issues, aiming to end a long-running dispute over their maritime border in the gas-rich Mediterranean Sea. The brief first session on Wednesday was hosted by the United Nations and mediated by the United States, whose diplomats worked for years to get the negotiations going before the two sides announced on Oct. 1 that they had agreed on a framework for talks . At issue is more than 330 square miles in the Mediterranean that Israel and Lebanon both claim is in their exclusive economic zone.

Israel and Lebanon held "productive" talks over their disputed Mediterranean Sea border on Thursday and agreed to meet again next month, the United Nations and the United States said. Lebanon pushed for more maritime territory than had previously been under negotiation with Israel , media based in Beirut reported on Wednesday, as the second round of talks began near the border between the countries. The Lebanese negotiators sought more maritime territory than the 860-square-kilometer triangle that had been under dispute with Israel for more than a decade, and their new demands

He said both Israel and Lebanon had demanded a different demarcation line.

"We don't accept the line they've proposed, and they don't accept ours, so we'll see what the mediator suggests."

Last month, President Michel Aoun Thursday demanded Israel halt all exploration in Karish until the dispute was settled.

In February 2018, Lebanon signed its first contract for offshore drilling for oil and gas in blocks 4 and 9, with a consortium comprising energy giants Total, ENI and Novatek.

Lebanon in April said initial drilling in Block 4 had shown traces of gas but no commercially viable reserves.

Lebanon's government stepped down after a massive blast at Beirut's port in August 2020, but deeply divided politicians have been unable to form a new cabinet ever since.

Lebanese politicians hope that commercially viable hydrocarbon resources off Lebanon's coast could help lift the debt-ridden country out of its worst economic crisis in decades.


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This is interesting!