Lebanon will accept no preconditions in talks with Israel on potentially gas-rich Mediterranean waters

Lebanon will accept no preconditions in talks with Israel on potentially gas-rich Mediterranean waters
Lebanon and Israel are holding talks on maritime borders despite the countries technically being in a state of war.
2 min read
05 May, 2021
Eastern Mediterranean countries are searching for gas in their waters [Getty]
Lebanon's presidency has insisted that it will not accept preconditions for talks with Israel on setting out maritime boundaries, which re-started on Tuesday.

President Michel Aoun's office issued a statement on Tuesday saying that his country rejected the US insistence that the maritime boundaries in the eastern Mediterranean Sea stick to those registered by the UN.

"This is against the Lebanese position," the statement read, according to Reuters.

"President Aoun has given his instructions to the negotiating team that talks should not be tied to any preconditions and should rely on international law that will remain the basis for reaching a fair solution."

Lebanon and Israel held a fifth round of talks on Tuesday to delineate boundaries in the potentially gas-rich waters off the two countries' coasts.

Turkey, Greece, Egypt, Cyprus and Libya have also sought to tap into the resources, leading to tensions between some countries on the outline of the contested maritime borders.

Although Lebanon and Israel are technically at war, the two countries have held talks on the issue via US mediators.

They have differing opinions on where the maritime borders begin and end, in a bid to carve out the biggest share possible of the potentially gas-rich waters.

Lebanon wants negotiations to factor in the government's draft proposal to add 1,400 square km (540 square miles) of waters to its exclusive economic zone.

Israel Energy Ministry Director-General Udi Adiri led his country's delegation, which was made up of foreign and energy ministry officials, as well as military officers.

The six-hour talks took place at the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) on the Lebanon-Israel border.

Israel already extracts gas from fields in the Mediterranean but is keen to explore more possible reserves.

Lebanon, which is suffering its worse economic crisis in decades, is also keen to search and extract gas from its waters.

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