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Lebanon to restart US-mediated maritime border talks with Israel

The Lebanon-Israel maritime border talks broke down months ago [AFP/Getty-file photo]

Date of publication: 29 April, 2021

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The talks relate to an area of the eastern Mediterranean thought to contain significant quantities of oil and natural gas.
Talks between Lebanon and Israel regarding a dispute over maritime borders could restart next week, Reuters has reported.

Indirect, US-mediated talks first began last October at a UN base along the border between the two countries over disputed waters in the eastern Mediterranean thought to contain significant quantities of oil and natural gas.

However, negotiations between the two countries, which are still officially at war, broke down in November.

A Lebanese official said to Reuters, on condition of anonymity, that the Americans told Beirut discussions would recommence from Monday.

Read more: Lebanon-Israel negotiations: Another US-brokered normalisation deal or 'technical' maritime border talks?

Another told the agency this would occur alongside the arrival of John Desrocher, a US mediator who is expected in the country sometime next week.

The US embassy was unable to immediately provide Reuters comment.

The November impasse occurred when Lebanon requested an additional 1,430 square kilometres of territory be added to its borders, according to a report in Israel Hayom at the time.

The Israeli side replied by asking for its maritime borders to extend into territory it previously considered to be Lebanese.

Since then, earlier in April, senior figures including Lebanon's Prime Minister Hassan Diab signed a declaration increasing Lebanon's maritime border claims by approximately 550 square miles.

However, President Michel Aoun refused to give executive consent to the measure, insisting it instead receive the backing of all ministers.

Aoun's son-in-law and president of Lebanon's Free Patriotic Movement, Gebran Bassil, suggested last week a middle-ground approach to Beirut's dispute with Tel Aviv, Lebanese French-language daily L'Orient-Le Jour reported.

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