By Wassim Seif El Din
BEIRUT, Lebanon (AA) – US mediator Amos Hochstein voiced hope Monday of reaching an agreement on maritime border demarcation between Lebanon and Israel in coming weeks.
The US envoy held talks in Beirut with Lebanese President Michel, Prime Minister-designate Najib Mikati and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri.
"I remain optimistic that we can make continuous progress as we have over the last several weeks and I look forward to coming back to the region and being able to make the final arrangements," Hochstein told reporters.
On Sunday, Lebanese Energy Minister Walid Fayad said the US mediator presented a new proposal for demarcating maritime border with Israel.
The proposal calls for maintaining Lebanon's complete right in the disputed Qana gas field along with a change on line 23, a change that eventually would allow ceding part of the disputed Karish gas field to Israel.
Lebanon and Israel are engaged in a dispute over a maritime area that is 860 square kilometers (332 square miles), according to maps sent by both counties to the UN in 2011.
The area is rich in natural gas and oil. Five sessions of indirect negotiations were held between Lebanon and Israel under UN sponsorship and US mediation. The last round of talks was in May 2021 but it was stuck because of major differences.
*Writing by Ahmed Asmar