U.S. envoy Amos Hochstein has urged Lebanese authorities to settle a maritime border dispute with Israel, saying it was the “last minute” for an agreement that could facilitate hydrocarbon exploration.
“I think that we’re at the moment of narrowing those gaps towards a deal,” Hochstein told LBCI in an interview.
“There’s no later anymore. This is the later. This is the last minute,” he added.
Hochstein, the State Department’s Senior Advisor for Global Energy Security, arrived in Lebanon on Tuesday to revive talks between Lebanon and Israel over a maritime border dispute that is holding up oil and gas explorations.
The U.S. envoy had met Wednesday with President Michel Aoun, Prime Minister Najib Miqati and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri.
Israel and Lebanon had resumed negotiations over their disputed maritime border in 2020 but the process was stalled by Beirut’s claim that the map used by the United Nations in the talks needed modifying.
Lebanese politicians hope that commercially viable hydrocarbon resources off Lebanon’s coast could help lift the debt-ridden country out of an unprecedented financial crisis branded by the World Bank as one of the planet’s worst in modern times.
“I am confident that there will be a unified position in Lebanon and that there’ll be a unified position in Israel, and that we’ll be able to move forward,” Hochstein said.
“My advice to people in Lebanon: focus on –- not what you’re missing, not what you may lose if you compromise. Think about what you gain.”
Lebanon is currently grappling with its worst ever financial crisis, and fuel shortages have ground the country to a halt in recent months.
With a bankrupt state unable to deliver more than an hour or two of mains electricity a day, individuals, businesses and institutions have relied almost entirely on diesel-powered generators.
SourceAgence France Presse