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Israel-Lebanon sea border talks postponed

BEIRUT/JERUSALEM — Maritime border talks between Lebanon and Israel scheduled for Wednesday have been postponed, and U.S. mediators will now contact the two old foes separately, Israeli and Lebanese officials said on Monday.

The negotiations were launched in October, with delegations convening at a U.N. base to try to resolve a dispute about their maritime border that has held up hydrocarbon exploration in the potentially gas-rich area.

Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said it had been agreed with the Americans that talks would be postponed for a few weeks.

“In the interim, they will do some shuttling in order to better prepare the next round of talks,” he told Israel’s Army Radio.

The talks are the culmination of three years of diplomacy by Washington.

Disagreement over the sea border has discouraged oil and gas exploration near the disputed line.

The sides presented contrasting maps for proposed borders in October, sources said at the time.

“HURDLES AND BUST-UPS”

Steinitz said last week there had been no breakthrough after four rounds of talks and that Lebanon had “so far presented positions which add up to a provocation.” He said he expected “many more hurdles and bust-ups” but hoped a breakthrough could be reached in a few months.

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