Lebanon, Israel end 1st round of talks over maritime border dispute

Beirut, Oct 14 (efe-epa).- Lebanon and Israel on Wednesday ended the first round of the United Nations-sponsored talks on the demarcation of their maritime border with a new meeting scheduled for 28 October, a military source told Efe.

A Lebanese military source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said it has been agreed that the next meeting between the parties will take place on 28 October, giving no further details.

The meeting took place at the UN headquarters in the border town of Naqoura in the presence of a United States delegation headed by US Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs David Schenker.

“We aspire to conduct negotiations at a pace that allows Lebanon to finalize the demarcation dossier within a reasonable time limit,” Bassam Yassin, leader of the Lebanese delegation, said during the meeting according to the country’s National News Agency (NNA).

Yassin added that he hoped “the other parties”, referring to Israel, would fulfill their obligations based on the international law and maintain the confidentiality of the dialogue.

After the meeting, which was the first between the neighboring countries on a civil issue in three decades, Yassin informed Lebanese President Michel Aoun of the developments, according to the presidency’s Twitter account.

In a joint statement, the US and the office of the UN special coordinator for Lebanon, Jan Kubis, said the two sides held “productive” talks and had pledged to continue with the negotiations this month.

The Israeli delegation sent a report of the meeting to the Israeli Minister of Energy, Yuval Steinitz, who approved the continuation of discussions.

Lebanon and Israel are disputing demarcation methods over approximately 856 square kilometers of waters in the Mediterranean Sea.

The conflict intensified after Israel discovered and started to exploit large natural gas fields in the waters during the last decade, something that helped it become self-sufficient in energy production.

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