BEIRUT — President Michel Aoun on Saturday assigned Deputy Parliament Speaker Elias Bou Saab to head a delegation to discuss delimiting maritime borders with Syria and that will travel to Damascus next week to do so, a source at Baabda Palace told L'Orient Today.
Bou Saab was the top Lebanese mediator in the indirect talks on the delineation of the maritime border between Lebanon and Israel — talks that resulted in an agreement two weeks ago. He was granted a national award Saturday for his mediation efforts.
Earlier Saturday, Aoun and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad discussed delineating their countries' shared maritime border, a Lebanese official said to Reuters.
A dispute over their shared sea boundary emerged last year after Syria granted a licence to a Russian energy company to begin maritime exploration in an area Lebanon claimed. Several gas discoveries have been made in the eastern Mediterranean.
Aoun earlier said demarcating the border would be next after Lebanon agreed its southern maritime boundary with longtime foe Israel following years of indirect US-mediated talks.
Aoun told Assad that Lebanon was keen "to begin negotiations with Syria to delineate its northern maritime boundary," the Lebanese official told Reuters after Saturday's talks.
Syria's Sham FM radio reported that details of the delineation had yet to be discussed and that Assad proposed holding direct talks via the countries’ foreign ministries.
The two leaders discussed delineation last year.
Aoun's term as president of Lebanon, which is the midst of a deep political and economic crisis, ends on Oct. 31. Three parliamentary sessions have failed to elect a successor.
Assad secured another seven-year term last year in an election derided by Syria's opposition and the West as a farce. The vote was held after the government regained control of much of the territory lost to opponents in a conflict that erupted in 2011.