A helicopter flies over a base of the U.N. peacekeeping force, in the southern town of Naqoura, Lebanon
A helicopter flies over a base of the UN peacekeeping force, in the southern town of Naqoura, Lebanon
Photo: AP
UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Jan Kubis, U.S. Assistant Secretary David Schenker, U.S. Ambassador to Algeria John Desrocher, and U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Dorothy Shea at the first round of Israeli-Lebanese border talks in Naqura on Wednesday

Israel pledges to give Lebanon maritime border talks 'a chance'

Head of Beirut delegation seeks deal in 'reasonable time,' says 2-hour initial meeting was 'first step in thousand-mile march'; joint statement by mediators UN and U.S. calls meeting 'productive' as warring neighbors play down possibility of normalization

News Agencies |
Published: 10.14.20 , 15:23
Israel pledged Wednesday to keep negotiating with its hostile northern neighbor Lebanon over defining their shared maritime border, after a brief, initial meeting earlier in the day.
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  • Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said in a statement he agreed that the Israeli delegation would push ahead with the talks "to give the process a chance."
    "We have no illusions," a senior official with the Energy Ministry said. "Our aim is not to create here some kind of normalization or some kind of peace process."
    The official spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
    UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Jan Kubis, U.S. Assistant Secretary David Schenker, U.S. ambassador to Algeria John Desrocher, and U.S. ambassador in Lebanon Dorothy Shea at the first round of Israeli-Lebanese border talks in Naqura UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Jan Kubis, U.S. Assistant Secretary David Schenker, U.S. ambassador to Algeria John Desrocher, and U.S. ambassador in Lebanon Dorothy Shea at the first round of Israeli-Lebanese border talks in Naqura
    UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Jan Kubis, U.S. Assistant Secretary David Schenker, U.S. Ambassador to Algeria John Desrocher, and U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Dorothy Shea at the first round of Israeli-Lebanese border talks in Naqura on Wednesday
    (Photo: AFP/U.S. Embassy)
    The unprecedented talks, which were held at a United Nations peacekeeping base in the Lebanese border town of Naqura, mark a "first step in the thousand-mile march towards the demarcation" of the frontier, Lebanon's delegation chief Brig. Gen. Bassam Yassin said during the inaugural session.
    "Our aim is very strict and limited and therefore hopefully achievable," he added, according to an army statement.
    Ysassin said at the first round of talks that he hopes to resolve the dispute with Israel within a "reasonable time."
    "Based on the higher interests of our country, we are looking to achieve a pace of negotiations that would allow us to conclude this dossier within reasonable time," he said.
    A helicopter flies over a base of the U.N. peacekeeping force, in the southern town of Naqoura, Lebanon A helicopter flies over a base of the U.N. peacekeeping force, in the southern town of Naqoura, Lebanon
    A helicopter flies over a base of the UN peacekeeping force, in the southern town of Naqoura, Lebanon
    (Photo: AP)
    The session was held under the auspices of the UN and the United States. A joint statement by the UN and the U.S. following the talks said that, "during this initial meeting, the representatives held productive talks and reaffirmed their commitment to continue negotiations later this month."
    Yassin also praised U.S. efforts to "help establish a positive and constructive atmosphere" during the talks.
    He also lauded the UN, saying he hopes it will exert "a fundamental and effective effort to organize the mechanism of talks and (secure) a smooth negotiation process."
    Israel and Lebanon's disputed sea borders Israel and Lebanon's disputed sea borders
    Israel and Lebanon's disputed sea borders
    (Photo: AFP)
    Wednesday's talks, which lasted for around one hour, came at a sensitive time as Lebanon, battered by multiple crises, hopes to continue exploring for oil and gas in a part of the Mediterranean also claimed by Israel.
    A second round of talks is set for October 28.
    A convoy of the Lebanese delegation arrives to the headquarters of the U.N. peacekeeping force in the southern Lebanese border town of Naqoura, Lebanon A convoy of the Lebanese delegation arrives to the headquarters of the U.N. peacekeeping force in the southern Lebanese border town of Naqoura, Lebanon
    The Lebanese delegation arrives at the headquarters of the UN peacekeeping force in the southern Lebanon border town of Naqoura on Wednesday
    (Photo: AP)
    Lebanon's outgoing Foreign Minister Charbel Wehbi said Lebanese negotiators would be "more fierce than they expect because we have nothing to lose."
    He added that if Lebanon's economy collapses, "there is no interest in making concessions."
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