Aoun Meets U.S. Mediator to Sea Demarcation Talks


President Michel Aoun met at Baabda Palace on Monday with John Desrocher, the head of the US delegation sponsoring the indirect maritime demarcation talks between Lebanon and Israel, the National News Agency reported on Monday.

The discussions focused on the latest developments related to the negotiation talks after a weeks-long halt.

The negotiations first began last in October and stopped a few weeks later. They were the first non-security talks between Lebanon and Israel, which have no diplomatic relations and are technically in a state of war.

Israel and Lebanon each claim about 860 square kilometers (330 square miles) of the Mediterranean Sea. But in the second round of talks, the Lebanese delegation — a mix of army officers and experts — offered a new map that pushes for an additional 1,430 square kilometers (550 square miles) for Lebanon.

The U.S. team is led by Desrocher.

The previous rounds of the U.S-mediated talks, hosted by the U.N., took place at a border post. Israel’s Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz is leading the negotiations for the Israeli side.

Israel has already developed offshore natural gas rigs, producing enough for domestic consumption and export abroad. Officials in Lebanon, which is going through its worst economic crisis, hope its own oil and gas discoveries will help alleviate its troubles.



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