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Friday, October 02, 2020

Lebanon: Upcoming border talks with Israelnote

Lebanese Parliamentary Speaker Nabih Berri announced yesterday (1/10/20) that Lebanon and Israel have reached a common framework agreement for talks aimed at resolving the maritime border dispute between both countries.

The Lebanese Army, with its efficient leadership and specialized officers, will act as the Lebanese negotiator.

The border talks will be US-mediated and will take place at the headquarters of UNIFIL in the southern Lebanese coastal town of Naqoura. They will be closely supervised by Lebanese President Michel Aoun.

The United States will act as a facilitator and a mediator, and will exert its utmost efforts to establish a positive and constructive atmosphere between the two parties.

The framework agreement will also allow Lebanon and Israel to discuss land border issues related to the Blue Line, and to accomplish the all-time Lebanese request to unify land and sea demarcations.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo hailed the agreement and said that it has “the potential to yield greater stability, security, and prosperity for Lebanese and Israeli citizens alike.”

In his turn, US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Schenker, who has been working on this issue since his appointment in June 2019, praised the agreement and announced that UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Jan Kubis will represent the UN.

Talks are scheduled to begin on October 14th, with a visit by Schenker to Beirut.

They are expected to push forward the exploration activities in Lebanon’s Block 9, where French energy company Total has not yet drilled any well.

As per Total’s Exploration and Production Agreement with Lebanon, it has until May 2021 to drill at least one well in Block 9.

Earlier in 2020, the company announced that initial drilling in Block 4 had shown traces of gas but no commercially viable reserves. The official drilling report of this block has not been published yet.

In his speech, Speaker Berri stated that Total promised to begin exploration operations in Block 9 before the end of 2020 without further delays. This will coincide with the licensing of Block 72 (Alon D) in northern Israel, which was launched earlier this summer.



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