Lebanon and Israel have resumed indirect talks with U.S. mediation over their disputed maritime border after nearly a six-month pause
Lebanon and Israel are resuming US-mediated talks regarding a dispute over their Mediterranean Sea border that has held up hydrocarbon exploration in the potentially gas-rich area.
The talks, between countries still technically at war, kicked off at the UN base in the town of Naqura in southern Lebanon, the National News Agency reported on Tuesday.
Lebanon and Israel took part in indirect talks to discuss demarcation last year. But they stalled after Lebanon demanded a larger area, including part of the Karish gas field, where Israel has given exploration rights to a Greek firm.
The talks last year were supposed to discuss a Lebanese demand for 860sq km (330 square miles) of territory in the disputed maritime area, according to a map sent to the United Nations in 2011.
However, Lebanon then said the map was based on erroneous calculations and demanded 1,430sq km (552 square miles) more further south, including part of Karish.
“The discussion will start from where we left it off,” a source at the Lebanese presidency told AFP news agency on Tuesday. He said both Israel and Lebanon demanded a different demarcation line.
“We don’t accept the line they’ve proposed, and they don’t accept ours, so we’ll see what the mediator suggests.”
Last month, Lebanese President Aoun demanded Israel halt all exploration in Karish until the dispute was settled [File: Reuters]Last month, Lebanese President Michel Aoun demanded Israel halt all exploration in Karish until the dispute was settled.
In February 2018, Lebanon signed its first contract for offshore drilling for oil and gas in Blocks 4 and 9, with a consortium comprising energy giants Total, ENI and Novatek.
Lebanon in April said initial drilling in Block 4 had shown traces of gas but no commercially viable reserves.
Washington said on Friday the discussions would be brokered by US diplomat John Desrocher, and called the resumption of talks “a positive step towards a long-awaited resolution”.
Desrocher arrived in Beirut on Monday night to take part in the talks, according to The Associated Press news agency.
Lebanese politicians hope that commercially viable hydrocarbon resources off Lebanon’s coast could help lift the debt-ridden country out of its worst economic crisis in decades.
But Lebanon’s government stepped down after a enormous blast at Beirut’s port in August 2020, and deeply divided politicians have been unable to form a new cabinet ever since.
In a startling detour from diplomatic norms, Philippines Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. has fired off an expletive-laced Twitter rant directed at China as the two countries lock horns over territorial claims.
On Monday, the Philippines issued a protest against the “belligerent” actions of Chinese vessels in waters claimed by Manila. But it appears that the country’s top diplomat felt the need to reiterate his government’s position – without the typical formalities. “China, my friend, how politely can I put it? Let me see… O… GET THE F**K OUT. What are you doing to our friendship? You. Not us. We’re trying. You. You’re like an ugly oaf forcing your attentions on a handsome guy who wants to be a friend; not to father a Chinese province,” Locsin wrote in a highly unorthodox Twitter screed.China, my friend, how politely can I put it? Let me see… O…GET THE FUCK OUT. What are you doing to our friendship? You. Not us. We’re trying. You. You’re like an ugly oaf forcing your attentions on a handsome guy who wants to be a friend; not to father a Chinese province … https://t.co/KTv1TOQvN7— Teddy Locsin Jr. (@teddyboylocsin) May 3, 2021In a follow-up message, he pointed to a 2016 UN Arbitral Tribunal decision which ruled that Beijing had no right to claim sovereignty over certain areas of the South China Sea. The outburst comes after Manila accused the Chinese Coast Guard of “shadowing, blocking, dangerous maneuver, and radio challenges” as Philippines Coast Guard vessels conducted training exercises in waters near Scarborough Shoal, which the Philippines has claimed as part of its exclusive economic zone. The incidents allegedly occurred between April 24-25. The country’s Department of Foreign Affairs accused Beijing of operating in the Philippines’ territorial waters, adding that Chinese vessels had “no law enforcement rights in these areas.”Although Manila insists the shoal belongs to the Philippines, the 2016 tribunal stated that no country could claim absolute sovereignty over the area, noting that it has long been used by Filipino, Vietnamese and Chinese fishermen.
Also on rt.com
Duterte says he will send Philippines’ navy ships into South China Sea to ‘stake claim’ over oil resources
Beijing has refused to recognize the UN ruling and considers the shoal Chinese territory. The Philippines has repeatedly aired its grievances with China over the maritime dispute, although not always with such flowery language. Last month, the Southeast Asian nation claimed that around 160 Chinese vessels were operating in Philippines waters, describing their presence as a blatant infringement of its “sovereign rights and jurisdiction.”In April, President Rodrigo Duterte said that he would send Philippines naval vessels into the disputed South China Sea in a bid to defend what it claims are its oil and mineral resources, a warning at least partly directed at Beijing. Like this story? Share it with a friend!
The U.S. State Department has cleared a possible $2.42 billion Foreign Military Sale (FMS) of six P-8I maritime patrol aircraft to India.According to the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency, the complete package includes 6 P-8I aircraft, 8 Multifunctional Information Distribution System-Joint Tactical Radio Systems 5 (MIDS-JTRS 5), 42 AN/AAR-54 Missile Warning Sensors, 14 LN-251 with Embedded Global Positioning Systems (GPS)/Inertial Navigations Systems (EGIs) and related equipment.The announcements also say that the Indian Navy procured eight P-8I aircraft from Boeing in January 2009, via Direct Commercial Sale and contracted for an additional four aircraft in July 2016. – ADVERTISEMENT – CONTINUE READING BELOW – “The first P-8I aircraft were delivered to the Indian Navy in 2013, providing interoperability and critical capabilities to coalition maritime operations,” DSCA said in its announcement. “This proposed sale of an additional six P-8I aircraft will allow the Indian Navy to expand its maritime surveillance aircraft (MSA) capability for the next 30 years. India will have no difficulty absorbing these aircraft into its armed forces.”The prime contractor will be The Boeing Company, Seattle, WA.Boeing says the patrol aircraft plays a crucial role in being the eyes of the Indian Navy and carrying out critical maritime operations. They provide India’s maritime warriors a significant edge in the strategically important Indian Ocean region.As noted by the company, an aircraft designed for long-range anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-surface warfare (ASuW), and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions; the P-8 delivers highest levels of quality, reliability, and operability. A true multi-mission aircraft, it is defined by a unique combination of state of the art sensors, proven weapons systems, and a globally recognized platform.