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        Lebanon touts 'new opportunity' for maritime border talks with Israel


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        Lebanese leaders indicated a willingness to continue negotiations with Israel about the countries' maritime border, in a meeting with US Senior Adviser for Global Energy Security Amos Hochstein in Beirut.
         
        An Israeli soldier stands next to an artillery unit on the Israeli side of the Israel-Lebanon border August 6, 2021
         
        Lebanese President Michel Aoun expressed "Lebanon's readiness to continue to cooperate positively" with the talks, Arab News reported.
         
        "We have a new opportunity to resume negotiations in Naquora, with the new US efforts being exerted in this context," Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri said, according to Lebanon's National News Agency.
         
        Lebanese Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib also met with Hochstein. The minister said following the meeting that "the issue of demarcating the maritime borders with occupied Palestine was discussed and the atmosphere was positive."
         
        "It was also agreed to maintain communication and strive to reach a positive result in this file, in what serves Lebanon's interest," Beirut stated.
         
        Hochstein called for the maritime border talks to be completed quickly, in an interview with Al Hadath TV in Lebanon.
         
        He added that the border demarcation talks are not about normalization, and that common gas reservoirs for Israel and Lebanon are not an option. 
         
        The State Department's message ahead of Hochstein's trip said he was in Lebanon to discuss a sustainable solution to the country's energy crisis.
         
        "Mr. Hochstein will also underscore the Biden Administration’s willingness to help Lebanon and Israel find a mutually agreeable solution to their shared maritime boundary for the benefit of both peoples," the statement read.
         
        Lebanon and Israel began indirect negotiations about their maritime border last year, mediated by the US. After four rounds of talks, the process stopped when Lebanon sharply increased its demands, increasing the disputed area from 869 sq. km. to 2,300 sq. km. This would include the Karish North natural gas field, in Israeli economic waters, where drilling is already taking place.
         

        Source: The Jerusalem Post