Lebanese President Michel Aoun said that his country's resumption of indirect negotiations with Israel, under the auspices of the United States and hosting the United Nations, reflects Lebanon's desire to achieve results that contribute to preserving stability in the southern region.
Aoun stressed, while receiving members of the negotiating team to demarcate the southern maritime borders of Lebanon, the importance of correcting the borders in accordance with international laws, while preserving Lebanon's right to its natural resources.
This came during Aoun's presidency of a meeting in the Presidential Palace in Baabda (south of Beirut) for members of the Lebanese team in indirect negotiations with Israel, in the presence of the Armed Forces Commander General Joseph Aoun, according to a statement by the Lebanese Presidency.
The statement indicated that Aoun provided the members of the negotiating delegation with his directions, and stressed the importance of correcting the maritime borders in accordance with international laws and regulations, as well as Lebanon's right to invest its natural resources in the exclusive economic zone.
Lebanon and Israel are scheduled to resume negotiations on demarcating the maritime borders tomorrow, Tuesday, with US mediation, according to a statement by the office of US State Department Spokesman Ned Price last Friday.
The statement said that the US team, which is mediating the maritime border negotiations between Israel and Lebanon, headed by Ambassador John DeRoucher, will travel to Lebanon on Monday.
Israel and Lebanon began negotiations, mediated by the United States, over their maritime borders last October.
The United Nations Mission in the Naqoura region (Reuters)
Settlement and talks
The two countries hope that settling the borders will encourage more gas exploration in the region as Israel already pumps large quantities of gas from the Mediterranean, but Lebanon has not yet done so.
The Lebanese delegation did not speak directly to the Israelis at the talks in Naqoura, a UN base on the Israeli-Lebanese border, and faced significant pressure from Hezbollah to abandon the negotiations.
After four rounds of talks, the negotiations stalled last November.
Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz accused Lebanon of changing its position 7 times, taking "positions that amount to a provocation."
During the negotiations, Lebanon increased its demand for a line that extends much further south, increasing the disputed area from about 860 square kilometers to 2,300 square kilometers.
Two weeks ago, the Lebanese Minister of Public Works and Transport Michel Najjar announced that the government had signed a decree to expand its exclusive economic zone in the Mediterranean to the extent presented in the negotiations, and said it would be presented to the United Nations.
It is noteworthy that Lebanon is facing a dispute over the demarcation of its exclusive economic zone with Israel, and the area of the disputed area is about 860 square kilometers.