Lebanon is preparing to negotiate a deal with US energy envoy Amos Hochstein to settle a dispute with Israel over marine gas resources, three Lebanese officials with knowledge of the talks told Reuters.
Hochstein landed in Beirut on Monday at the invitation of the Lebanese government, which had objected to the June 5 arrival of a ship operated by London-based Energean (ENOG.L), known as the Karish, off the Mediterranean coast.
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Israel maintains that Karish is part of its Exclusive Economic Zone, but Lebanon says the area is in disputed waters and should not be developed unless the two countries share their indirect boundaries to delineate their maritime borders. Don’t end the conversation.
Those negotiations failed after Lebanon last year pushed its claim in the disputed area to “Line 29” beyond a boundary known as “Line 23”, which saw some 1,400 square feet in its claim, including part of Karish. km (540 sq mi). ,
Official sources said that to overcome the impasse, Hochstein proposed a field-swap that would create an S-shaped border rather than a straight line, but Lebanon did not officially agree to the proposal.
Lebanon has insisted on renewing the indirect talks, but has not yet publicly announced whether it will stick to Line 29 as the starting position for those talks.
According to sources, the US considers Line 29 a “non-starter”.
Three Lebanese officials with knowledge of the internal process to finalize a government stance said Lebanon would drop the Line 29 claims.
Sources said President Michel Aun would meet with Hochstein on Tuesday morning and propose “line 23, plus a little more”.
One of the officials specified that the position of Aun would lay claim to line 23 in addition to the 300 km square which included the Kana area, but not Karish.
Aun will demand that indirect talks resume as soon as possible and that Israel halt all work in Karish until the talks are over, two officials said.
MP Mark Dou, who visited Aun on Monday as part of a group of independent lawmakers, said the president told lawmakers he “cannot insist on line 29” as a starting point.
“President Aoun told us that Lebanon does not have the technical foundation on which to make a case for Line 29 because previous governments had failed to present formal documents to maintain this position,” Daou told Reuters. .
Alain Aun, a lawmaker for the President-founded Free Patriotic Movement, said Lebanon would offer a counter-proposal to Hochstein’s proposal, but did not give details.
Hochstein met on Monday with Acting Energy Minister Walid Fayed and Deputy Parliamentarian Elias Bou Saab, but did not make any public comment.
Read more: Lebanon, Israel ‘narrowing gap’ towards agreement on maritime boundary: US diplomat