Israeli and Lebanese negotiators met briefly on Wednesday for talks on their disputed maritime border, ending their meeting after only an hour and agreeing to meet again on Oct. 28, Lebanese defence sources said.
The U.S.-mediated talks follow three years of diplomacy by the United States and were announced weeks after Washington stepped up pressure on allies of Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah, which fought a month-long war with Israel in 2006.
Lebanon’s Hezbollah and its ally Amal criticised on Wednesday the delegation set to negotiate with Israel over their disputed sea border, calling for changing the team hours before the first meeting.
Formally still at war after decades of conflict, Lebanon and Israel agreed to launch talks via U.S. mediation over a maritime border running through potentially gas-rich Mediterranean waters.
This follows three years of diplomacy by Washington and comes weeks after it stepped up sanctions on political allies of Iran-backed Hezbollah in Lebanon, a country deep in financial crisis.
In an overnight statement, Hezbollah and Amal, Lebanon’s two main Shi’ite parties, said the negotiating team must include only military officials, without any civilians or politicians.