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Lebanon Asks US to Continue Border Demarcation Mediation

Lebanon Asks US to Continue Border Demarcation Mediation

Saturday, 19 March, 2022 - 11:30
President Michel Aoun met on Friday with Speaker Nabih Berri and Prime Minister Najib Mikati at the Baabda Palace. (Dalati & Nohra)

Lebanon called on the United States to continue its mediation efforts to complete the maritime border demarcation negotiations with Israel in the light of observations made by the Lebanese Technical Committee on the proposal of US mediator Amos Hochstein.

The Lebanese Technical Committee has met to discuss a proposal submitted by Hochstein, to divide the disputed area in a way that does not allow Lebanon to obtain the entire area that it considers its legitimate right, which amounts to 860 nautical kilometers on its southern border.

Lebanon did not provide a definitive answer to the US offer, leaving the matter to the ongoing negotiations and asking the US to maintain its mediation.

President Michel Aoun met on Friday with Speaker Nabih Berri and Prime Minister Najib Mikati at the Baabda Palace, where they discussed the recent US proposal and the outcome of a study conducted by the relevant technical committee, which includes representatives from the Presidency, the Government, the Army Command (the Hydrography Department) and the Petroleum Administration Authority.

A statement issued by the presidential office said that the Lebanese officials decided to ask the United States to “continue its efforts to complete the negotiations, in accordance with the framework agreement and in a manner that preserves Lebanon’s supreme interest and stability in the region.”

Ministerial sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that Hochstein’s proposal required some “clarifications and amendments.”

“There are points that need to be studied in depth, and other details that must be clarified,” the sources emphasized.

In early October 2020, Berri announced a non-final framework agreement, which represents a basis for paving the way for the demarcation of the land and sea borders with Israel. The US-led negotiations were assumed on the Lebanese side by the Army Command, under the auspices of the president and the prime minister.

The meetings began on Oct. 14, and four rounds were held before negotiations stopped when Lebanon sent a letter to the UN, demanding an additional area of 1,430 square km that includes part of the Israeli Karish gas field.

The letter explicitly stated that the area between lines 1 and 23 to the area between lines 23 and 29, with an increase of 1,430 square km in addition to the previous 860 square km, is the disputed area, including the Karish gas field.

The indirect negotiations were stopped as Lebanon’s request was opposed by Israel. They later resumed in May under a new mechanism.

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