Israel calls on the Lebanese President to direct talks in Europe to demarcate the borders

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Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz called on the Lebanese President, Michel Aoun, to hold direct talks in Europe regarding the demarcation of the maritime borders between the two countries, after they exchanged accusations a few days ago.

In a series of tweets in Hebrew and Arabic addressed to Aoun on Monday, Steinitz said, “I am pleased to inform you that I enjoy the dialogue that is taking place between us in recent days.”

He also wrote, “I am convinced that if we are able to hold a direct meeting in one of the European countries in order to conduct open or secret negotiations, then we will have a good opportunity to resolve the dispute over the maritime borders once and for all.”

A few days ago, Steinitz and Aoun exchanged accusations through tweets that negotiations had stalled, and Steinitz said, “Unfortunately, it seems that you (referring to Aoun) do not know all the facts about this matter, because the Lebanese side changed its positions on the maritime borders many times over 15 years.

On Friday, the Lebanese presidency was quick to respond to Steinitz’s accusations, saying that it was “baseless.”

She emphasized that “Lebanon’s position is firm on the issue of maritime demarcation of the southern borders, in accordance with President Aoun’s directives to the Lebanese negotiating delegation, especially with regard to Lebanon’s exercise of its sovereign right.”

Lebanon and Israel agreed to direct negotiations after years of US shuttle diplomacy, as the first two rounds of talks were held at the headquarters of the United Nations forces on the border with Lebanon last month, and then a third round earlier this month, with the date of the next round scheduled next month.

The negotiations concern a marine area extending over about 860 square kilometers, according to a map sent in 2011 to the United Nations However, Lebanon later considered that it was based on wrong estimates.



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