Lebanon expands claim over disputed maritime area with Israel, says Minister

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Lebanon’s caretaker public works and transport minister said on Monday he had signed a document expanding Lebanon’s claims in its maritime border
dispute with Israel.

The amendment to Lebanon’s original claim submitted to the United Nations would add around 1,400 sq. kilometers to its exclusive economic zone.

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The document now needs to be signed off by Lebanon’s caretaker prime minister, minister of defense and president ahead of submission to the UN for a formal claim to register the new coordinates for the area.

“I expect it will be signed as everyone, the minister of defense and the prime minister and the president are concerned about this,” minister Michel Najjar told a news conference.

Negotiations between old foes Lebanon and Israel were launched in October, to try to resolve the dispute about their maritime border that has held up hydrocarbon exploration in the potentially gas-rich area.

The talks, a culmination of three years of diplomacy by Washington, have since stalled.

Israel already pumps gas from huge offshore fields but Lebanon has yet to find commercial gas reserves in its own waters.

Lebanon, in the throes of a deep financial meltdown that is threatening its stability, is desperate for cash as it faces the worst economic crisis since its 1975-1990 civil war.

“We will not give up any inch of our homeland or a drop of its waters or an inch of its dignity,” Najjar said.

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