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Mediators: Israel-Lebanon Maritime Talks Productive

Mediators: Israel-Lebanon Maritime Talks Productive

Thursday, 29 October, 2020 - 15:45
FILE PHOTO: Signs bearing names of cities are pictured in Naqoura, near the Lebanese-Israeli border, southern Lebanon October 13, 2020. REUTERS/Aziz Taher/File Photo

Israel and Lebanon held "productive" talks over their maritime border on Thursday and agreed to meet again next month, the United Nations and the United States said.

Thursday's meeting was the third this month between the longtime foes, mediated by the US and hosted by the UN peacekeeping force (UNIFIL) at a base in the southern Lebanese border town of Naqoura.

Lebanon’s official delegation, led by the army, had no immediate comment. After nearly four hours of talks Thursday, the delegation went to brief President Michel Aoun.

Lebanon has said its talks are strictly limited to their boundary which lies in an area of potentially gas-rich Mediterranean water.

On Wednesday the two sides presented contrasting maps outlining proposed borders that actually increased the size of the disputed area, sources said.

The Lebanese proposal extended farther south than the border Lebanon previously presented to the UN, according to a Lebanese security source. The Israeli map pushed the boundary farther north than Israel's original position, according to a source familiar with the discussions.

The talks are held amid tight security, including patrols by UN peacekeepers, Lebanese army patrols and Israeli navy ships.

"Representatives from the governments of Israel and Lebanon held productive talks mediated by the United States and hosted by the Office of the United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon," the joint US-UN statement said. "The parties committed to continue negotiations next month."

“The United States and UNSCOL remain hopeful that these negotiations will lead to a long-awaited resolution,” it added.

A senior Lebanese source said the two sides would meet again on Nov. 11.

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