U.S. Says Border Talks Can Boost Stability in Lebanon, Israel

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The agreement to commence discussions on the maritime boundary between Lebanon and Israel “is a vital step forward that offers the potential to yield greater stability, security, and prosperity for Lebanese and Israeli citizens alike,” the U.S. State Department said Monday.

In a statement, it added that U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Schenker, the top American diplomat for the Middle East, will be in Lebanon ahead of Wednesday’s talks to attend the opening session.

It also said that Schenker will be joined by Ambassador John Desrocher, who will serve as the U.S. mediator for these negotiations.

The talks will be held at the headquarters of the U.N. peacekeeping force in the southern Lebanese border town of Naqoura.

Israel and Lebanon have no diplomatic relations and are technically in a state of war. They each claim about 860 square kilometers of the Mediterranean Sea as within their own exclusive economic zones.

Israel’s Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz will lead the Israeli delegation, according to Israeli officials.

Lebanese officials have made sure to send a team of experts to show that this week’s talks with Israel are purely technical and don’t mean any kind of normalization between the two countries.

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