Lebanon and Israel are to hold U.S. mediated border talks
Lebanon and Israel have agreed to a framework for U.S.-mediated negotiations that - they hope - will end disputes over a border that has been the frontline of several conflicts.
The two countries are still in a formal state of war, and they've contested their maritime and land borders for decades.
Lebanon's parliament speaker, Nabih Berri, said on Thursday the talks would be held under the auspices of the United Nations, seen here patrolling the volatile land border -- known as the Blue Line -- on the Lebanese side.
Washington, which has been mediating to bring the two foes to the negotiating table, welcomed the agreement.
Crucially, one of the disputed maritime areas is on the edge of energy-rich waters.
And Lebanon's economy desperately needs a boost -- it's close to collapse because of a mountain of debt and decades of mismanagement and corruption, compounded by the devastating port blast in August in Beirut.
Lebanon's search for offshore oil and gas began in February. The country is on the Levant Basin in the eastern Mediterranean, where several big sub-sea gas fields have been discovered.
Border tensions flare sporadically: over a wall Israel is building along the Blue Line and the growing arsenal of Lebanon's Iran-backed Hezbollah group, which Israel sees as the biggest threat on its frontier.