JERUSALEM (AP) — Talks between Israel and Lebanon over disputed maritime borders that were scheduled to take place this week have been postponed, Israeli and Lebanese officials said Monday.
The two countries have engaged in indirect, US-mediated talks to draw a sea border, despite formally being in a state of war. The last round of talks were held in November and hosted in by the United Nations in a southern Lebanese border town.
The negotiations are the first non-security related talks between the two states.
An Israeli official confirmed that Wednesday’s scheduled summit was postponed, and said the American mediators “decided to focus on dialogue between the two sides at the moment, in order to prepare the ground for the next round of talks.” The official spoke on condition of anonymity as the official wasn’t authorized to speak to journalists.
In Beirut, a Lebanese official confirmed that the talks have been postponed until further notice. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations, did not give a reason for the postponement and also did not elaborate.
The sides are negotiating their disputed maritime borders that involve potentially lucrative offshore oil and gas deals.
Israel has already developed offshore natural gas rigs in its economic waters, and has started producing enough for domestic consumption and export abroad. Lebanon hopes that oil and gas discoveries in its Mediterranean Sea waters could help alleviate its economic and financial crises.
Photo: Beirut’s waterfront promenade, along the Mediterranean Sea, is mostly empty after municipal policemen ordered people to leave, as the country’s top security council and the government were meeting over the spread of the new coronavirus, in Beirut, Lebanon, in Beirut, Lebanon, Sunday, March 15, 2020. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)