Lebanon and Israel have agreed to a framework for US-mediated talks aimed at ending a long-running dispute over a border that has been the frontline of several conflicts.
Lebanon and Israel, still in a formal state of war, have contested their land and maritime borders for decades, including an area on the edge of three Lebanese energy blocks. Washington been mediating in efforts to bring the two sides to the table.
Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri said the framework for talks had been agreed after US sanctions were imposed on his right-hand man for corruption and financially enabling Hezbollah, the heavily armed group, Iran-backed. Washington deems the Shi'ite Muslim group a terrorist organisation.
Israel's energy minister confirmed that two sides would hold US-mediated talks.
"This is a framework agreement, and not a final one," Berri told a news conference, saying discussions would be held under the auspices of the United Nations in a base near the UN-monitored boundary with Israel, known as the Blue Line.
He said the United States would push for an agreement as soon as possible, but told reporters the agreement on a framework was reached prior to Washington's move to impose sanctions on his aide, Ali Hassan Khalil.
Lebanon's change of tack has come when the country is facing a crippling crisis as its economy has been crushed under a mountain of debt. The crisis was compounded by a massive port explosion that ruined a swathe of Beirut on August 4.
US welcomes Israel-Lebanon agreement on framework for maritime border talks
The United States on Thursday welcomed an agreement between Israel and Lebanon on a framework to launch US-mediated talks aimed at resolving a long-running maritime border dispute.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the discussions between the two countries, which are still in a formal state of war, "have the potential to yield greater stability, security, and prosperity for Lebanese and Israeli citizens alike."
Pompeo issued his statement after Israeli and Lebanese officials announced agreement on the framework for negotiations over maritime issues. The two countries have differences over natural gas exploration in the eastern Mediterranean.