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US mediator hopeful of Lebanon-Israel border demarcation deal

President of Lebanon Michel Aoun (R) receives US Senior Advisor for Energy Security Amos Hochstein (L) and accompanying delegation in Beirut, Lebanon on 20 October 2021. [Lebanese Presidency - Anadolu Agency]
President of Lebanon Michel Aoun (R) receives US Senior Advisor for Energy Security Amos Hochstein (L) and accompanying delegation in Beirut, Lebanon on 20 October 2021. [Lebanese Presidency - Anadolu Agency]

US mediator, Amos Hochstein, voiced hope Monday of reaching an agreement on maritime border demarcation between Lebanon and Israel in coming weeks, Anadolu News Agency reports.

The US Envoy held talks in Beirut with Lebanese President, Michel Aoun, Prime Minister-designate, Najib Mikati and Parliament Speaker, Nabih Berri.

"I remain optimistic that we can make continuous progress as we have over the last several weeks and I look forward to coming back to the region and being able to make the final arrangements," Hochstein told reporters.

On Sunday, Lebanese Energy Minister, Walid Fayad, said the US mediator presented a new proposal for demarcating maritime border with Israel.

The proposal calls for maintaining Lebanon's complete right in the disputed Qana gas field along with a change on line 23, a change that eventually would allow ceding part of the disputed Karish gas field to Israel.

Lebanon and Israel are engaged in a dispute over a maritime area that is 860 square kilometres (332 square miles), according to maps sent by both counties to the UN in 2011.

The area is rich in natural gas and oil. Five sessions of indirect negotiations were held between Lebanon and Israel under UN sponsorship and US mediation. The last round of talks was in May 2021, but it was stuck because of major differences.

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