Lebanon, Israel start talks on disputed maritime border — UN source

NAQOURA, Lebanon: Long-time foes Lebanon and Israel met on Wednesday for unprecedented talks on their disputed maritime border, a United Nations source said.

The talks, at a United Nations base on the land border between the two countries, were mediated by the United States which has pushed for three years for negotiations to resolve the argument over potentially gas-rich Mediterranean waters.

Two Lebanese military helicopters were seen bringing the Lebanese delegation to the meeting. The Lebanese team was expected to be led by a military officer, and the Israeli side by the director general of its energy ministry.

Agreement to hold the talks was announced weeks after the United States stepped up pressure on allies of Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah, imposing sanctions on senior politician from its main Shiite parliamentary ally.

Hezbollah, which fought a month-long war with Israel in 2006, says the talks are not a sign of peace-making with its long-time enemy. Israel’s energy minister also said expectations should be realistic.

The talks come after the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain agreed to establish full relations with Israel, under US-brokered deals which realign some of Washington’s closest Middle East allies against Iran.


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