Hochstein says 'some progress' made in 'important' Baabda meeting


U.S. energy mediator Amos Hochstein said in an interview Monday that “some progress” was made in his talks with Lebanon’s leaders earlier in the day regarding the sea border demarcation file.

“I would say today’s meeting was important and I was honored that we were able to be with the three presidents at the same time,” Hochstein told LBCI television.

He added that both Lebanon and Israel have “showed willingness to take the negotiations seriously to address the issues head-on.”

“The goal of today’s meeting was to narrow those gaps. I believe that we had narrowed gaps before we got here and we made some progress today as well and I hope that we can continue to make that kind of progress,” Hochstein went on to say.

Asked about Hezbollah’s latest threats to Israel against “wasting time” in the negotiations, the envoy said: “I think that we’ve been very clear, the United States, that the best way and really the only way to achieve a resolution to this long-lasting dispute is going to be through the negotiating table and through diplomacy. That’s the only way that will make progress. Anything else has the risk of causing some miscalculated harm to those negotiations and could end them.”

He added that in 2025 or 2027 we can be “in a place where Lebanon’s economy has rebounded, where people are not leaving the country -- they’re coming back to the country to create more jobs here, for more economic prosperity here.”

This is “what Lebanon deserves at the end of the day,” he said.

Asked whether possible presidential and governmental vacuum in Lebanon might affect the negotiations, Hochstein said: “We should take those concerns to heart, we should act with urgency. There are many, many reasons why we should finish this negotiation and we should reach a conclusion.”

I believe it is doable, I believe that both parties can,” he said.

“We should not waste this opportunity and we should finish those negotiations now and reach an agreement,” the mediator urged.

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