Beirut has presented the US with its stance on the maritime border dispute with Israel as differences with Syria on Lebanon’s Exclusive Economic Zone began looming on the horizon.
President Michel Aoun on Thursday presented US Ambassador to Lebanon Elizabeth Richard with new proposals on maritime border demarcation in the South.
Richard later visited Speaker Nabih Berri who told her Lebanon had a “unified” position on border demarcation.
Beirut has been calling for the official demarcation of the southern maritime border between Lebanon and Israel. It now hopes that the US mediation would resolve the dispute.
But informed Lebanese sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that Lebanon is facing a dispute with Syria on the northern maritime border in an area spanning over 1,000 square kilometers.
The Lebanese government approved in April the launch of the country’s second licensing round for offshore oil and gas exploration.The blocks approved for exploration tenders include those along Lebanon’s northern border with Syria.
“There could be a crisis” with the neighboring country, the Lebanese sources said.
“It is not yet clear how the government will deal with the matter,” they said.
The head of Justicia Foundation, Dr. Paul Morcos, said border demarcation is possible but needs the approval of all sides.
“It also requires bilateral agreements.”
He ruled out a Lebanese-Syrian dispute, saying no country has an interest in putting oil exploration and investment in jeopardy.
Lebanese sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that a joint committee on border demarcation has never been formed.
They said the demarcation of the Exclusive Economic Zone requires discussions between the two countries.
Source: Asharq Al-Awsat - Beirut - Nazeer Rida
To note that the speaker of the House, Nabih Berri, met on Thursday with US Ambassador to Lebanon, Elizabeth Richard, with whom he discussed the current situation in Lebanon and the region. Berri confirmed during the meeting a unified Lebanese position over the demarcation of South Lebanon’s maritime border and the country’s exclusive economic zone.
Refraining from solving the territorial disputes will prevent Lebanon from developing part of its oil and gas resources. While Lebanon is yet to demarcate its maritime southern borders with Israel through the efforts of UN and international diplomacy, another potential tension with Syria might arise over the discovery of offshore petroleum resources in the north of the country.