Lebanon names team for maritime border talks with Israel

Lebanon names team for maritime border talks with Israel

He said Lebanon is trying in part to keep the United States from imposing any more sanctions on Lebanese figures and buy time until after the USA election. The Lebanese delegation, made up of members of the country's military, was led by Lebanese Armed Forces Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations Brig.

Israel and Lebanon have launched indirect talks about their disputed sea border.

The US state department said representatives "held productive talks and reaffirmed their commitment to continue negotiations later this month".

The Lebanese team was expected to be led by a military officer, and the Israeli side by the director general of its energy ministry.

Reactions to the talks have been mixed in Lebanon, still reeling from a huge August explosion at Beirut port that killed more than 190 people and dealt another crippling blow to Lebanon's economy.

A senior official with Israel's energy ministry said: "We have no illusions".

Wednesday's meeting was hosted by the United Nations, which has monitored the land boundary since Israel withdrew from south Lebanon in 2000.

Udi Adiri
Udi Adiri

He said, "For our country's benefit, we look forward for the wheel of negotiations to move at a pace that enables us to close this file within a reasonable time period". "Our aim is not to create here some kind of normalisation or peace process".

The first round of talks at the headquarters of the UN Interim Force In Lebanon (Unifil) on Wednesday were facilitated by US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Schenker and the US ambassador to Algeria, John Desrocher. Lebanon has split its expanse of oceans into 10 blocs, where three are at the region below dispute with Israel. The Lebanese presidency has said the talks would be purely technical.

This has prompted suspicions that the flurry of US-sponsored diplomacy relating to Israel is linked to President Donald Trump's re-election campaign.

The talks have not come without criticism, particularly from Lebanon's two prominent Shiaa groups, the Amal Movement and Hezbollah. "Even the Hezbollah bloc in parliament stated that defining the boundary of" national sovereignty" is the task of the Lebanese state.

Parliament Speaker and Amal Movement leader Nabih Berri Tuesday criticized the Lebanese delegation for including civilians, after saying on October 1, the day he announced the negotiations, that the delegation should include only military authorities.

The pro-Hezbollah Al-Akhbar daily on Monday called them "a moment of unprecedented political weakness for Lebanon", arguing that Israel is the real "beneficiary".

Lebanon and Israel hold monthly tripartite indirect meetings in Naqoura to discuss violations along their border. Israel also signed agreements in January with Cyprus and Greece linking the offshore gas reserves to Europe and has reached similar export arrangements with Egypt and Jordan.

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