US prepared to broker peace between Lebanon and Israel
US prepared to broker peace talks between Lebanon and Israel over maritime dispute
The US is prepared to broker maritime talks between Lebanon and Israel as the two countries clash over maritime activities.
The US is prepared to broker maritime talks between Lebanon and Israel, who share a fraught relationship over borders, a US envoy revealed.
The news comes as relations between the two countries worsen over Israel's exploration of an offshore gas field on Lebanon's southern border - part of an ongoing dispute over their shared sea frontier.
US Under Secretary of State David Hale, during a visit to Beirut, pledged Washington's support in helping solve the border dispute which would "have the potential to unlock significant economic benefits for Lebanon".
The US' pronouncement comes as Lebanon President Michel Aoun this week demanded Israel halt its offshore exploration.
The countries, which are still technically at war, last year took part in indirect US-brokered talks to discuss demarcation to clear the way for offshore oil and gas exploration.
But those talks stalled after Lebanon demanded a larger area, including part of the Karish gas field, where Israel has given a Greek firm rights for exploration.
"Lebanon is within its rights to evolve its position according to its interest and as suitable under international law," Aoun told Hale.
Aoun "demanded international experts... draw the line according to international law".
He also called for a "commitment to not carrying out any oil or gas activities and not starting any exploration in the Karish field and its adjacent waters" until the matter was settled.
During his visit, Hale pointed to Lebanon's unstable political and economic climate, and slammed elements of the political class for "obstructing progress".
"Today there's been very little progress but it's not too late," Hale said.
He added that Washington has long called for Lebanon's leaders to show sufficient flexibility to form a government that "is willing and capable to reversing the collapse that is underway".