Lebanon and Israel negotiated a US-mediated negotiation over a conflicting maritime boundary on Tuesday after a month’s pause to pave the way for marine oil and gas exploration.
According to the National News Agency (NNA), a five-hour indirect consultation between countries still technically at war took place at a United Nations base in the town of Nakra in southern Lebanon.
Washington called the resumption of negotiations “a positive step towards a long-awaited solution,” as they were to be mediated by US diplomat John Desrocher on Friday.
Last year, Lebanon and Israel also participated in an indirect US-mediated talks to discuss boundaries.
However, these negotiations stalled after Lebanon demanded that it cover a larger area, including part of the Kalish gas field, which Israel gave the Greek company exploration rights.
According to a map sent to the United Nations in 2011, last year’s talks were to discuss Lebanon’s demand for 860 square kilometers (330 square miles) of territory in the disputed waters.
However, Lebanon later stated that the map was based on miscalculations and demanded 1,430 square kilometers (552 square miles) of territory further south, including part of Kalish.
In a statement after the meeting on Tuesday, President Lebanon said US mediation wanted negotiations to deal with “UN-registered” Israel and Lebanon maps, which mention an area of 860 square kilometers.
“This violates the principle of negotiating with Lebanon’s proposal without preconditions,” the statement said.
“We have instructed the (Lebanese) delegation not to continue negotiations in accordance with the preconditions,” added President Michel Aoun.
To change the map for 2011, Lebanese authorities need to notify the United Nations of the new coordinates, but the president has not yet signed official legislation on the changed border points.
International law remains “the basis for ensuring continued negotiations and reaching the fair and just solution that Lebanon desires,” Aung added.
A source from President Lebanon told AFP earlier Tuesday that both Israel and Lebanon demanded different boundaries.
“We don’t accept the policies they propose, and they don’t accept our policies, so we’ll see what the mediators propose,” sources said.
Lebanon argues that talks with Israel are “technical” rather than political, and that both sides only communicate through mediators.
Last month, Aung demanded that Israel stop all expeditions in Kalish until the dispute was resolved.
In February 2018, Lebanon signed the first contract for offshore oil and gas drilling in blocks 4 and 9 with a consortium of energy giants Total, ENI and Novatek.
Lebanon in April said the first drilling at Block 4 showed traces of gas, but no commercially viable reserves.
The Lebanese government resigned after a big explosion at the Port of Beirut last August, but deeply divided politicians were unable to form a new cabinet.
Lebanese politicians hope that offshore commercially viable hydrocarbon resources will help save debt-stricken countries from the worst economic crisis in decades.
Lebanon, Israel Hold Talks Over Maritime Border Source link Lebanon, Israel Hold Talks Over Maritime Border