The visit of US Ambassador to Lebanon Dorothy Shea, to President Michel Aoun and Speaker Nabih Berri on Tuesday revived the file of the negotiations on the demarcation of the maritime borders with Israel, which were halted in December.

File photo of US Ambassador Dorothy Shea when she presented her credentials to President Aoun. (Screengrab)

Well-informed ministerial sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that Shea discussed with the Lebanese officials pending files, mainly the border demarcation.

The United States seeks to assume the role of mediator and facilitator of the indirect negotiations, which were launched on Oct. 14.

Exploration of one of the blocks (9) is controversial since part of it is located in an 860-square-kilometer (330-square-mile) area ( orange color) claimed by both Israel and Lebanon.

Four sessions were held between representatives from Lebanon and Israel, but they collided with difficult demands from both sides. The US has expressed readiness to complete its mission even after the negotiations have faltered.

In remarks following his meeting with Shea, Aoun affirmed “Lebanon’s position regarding the resumption of negotiations based on proposals presented during previous meetings.”

Berri, for his part, underlined the need to resume the talks with impetus, “given the importance of the results envisaged for Lebanon and for its sovereign rights to invest in its wealth.”

After announcing the framework agreement to initiate border demarcation negotiations, Lebanon produced a new map demanding an area of 2,290 nautical kilometers, to which the Israelis responded with another map demanding hundreds of additional kilometers in Lebanese economic waters, reaching off the city of Sidon, south of Beirut. As a result, the negotiations were suspended last December and were replaced by a round of bilateral talks conducted by the US envoy in Beirut and Tel Aviv.

Shea hoped the negotiations would resume, the sources told Asharq Al-Awsat, pointing out that the matter was now awaiting Israel’s response.

Asharq Al-Awsat

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