Foreign Affairs Minister Adnan Mansour denied on Monday the report in Israeli newspaper Haaretz that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said that Lebanon agreed to discuss with Israel its maritime borders in a tripartite meeting.
Mansour told An-Nour radio that the process is still in its early stages and the measures that Lebanon will take have not been specified yet.
In July, Israel outlined maritime economic borders that challenged what it said were boundaries submitted by Lebanon to the United Nations. Lebanon, which has yet to explore off its own coast, last week passed a law to set out its own borders.
U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon Michael Williams said signals he had received from the two countries – “from the Prime Minister’s Office in both cases” – suggested they were seeking to avoid confrontation.
“Neither of them are looking for a scrap on this … On the contrary they think they can de-conflict it,” he told Reuters.
The issue gained importance after the discovery in the last two years of two natural gas fields estimated to be worth tens of billions of dollars.
Lebanon has not laid claim to those reserves, but has asked the United Nations to ensure Israel’s plans do not encroach on offshore reserves it believes lie in its own waters.
Williams, who visited Israel last week, said his talks showed there was “no magic wand” to solve the disagreement.