US mediator in Lebanon-Israel maritime talks to arrive in Beirut this week

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Amos Hochstein, the US diplomat mediating talks between Lebanon and Israel over their shared maritime border, will be in Beirut at the end of the week, a statement from Lebanon’s presidential palace said on Sunday.

The statement said Hochstein would be in Lebanon to follow up on discussions with the Lebanese side on the delineation, without providing more details.

The US embassy in Beirut declined to comment.

Hochstein was last in Beirut in late July for meetings with Lebanese officials.

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At the time, a senior Israeli official, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said Hochstein would present a new Israeli proposal that “includes a solution that would allow the Lebanese to develop the gas reserves in the disputed area while preserving Israel's commercial rights”.

A Lebanese official said the proposal would allow Lebanon to explore the entire Qana Prospect, an area with the potential to hold hydrocarbons which crosses beyond Line 23, a maritime line that was originally Lebanon's demand during negotiations.

Hochstein told local broadcaster LBCI after that trip that he expected exploration would move forward in the area once the companies involved had the “legal and diplomatic certainty” that would result from a deal.

“I remain optimistic that we can make continuous progress as we have over the last several weeks and I look forward to being able to come back to the region to make the final arrangement,” Hochstein said.

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