NICOSIA, April 15 (Xinhua) -- Lebanon is considering new proposals for the demarcation of its maritime borders with Israel, Lebanese Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib said after talks in Nicosia with his Cypriot counterpart Ioannis Kasoulides.
The issue is of direct interest to Cyprus as the maritime borders dispute between Lebanon and Israel, which relates to a sea stretch of about 800 square kilometers, has been blocking for years the finalization of an agreement between Cyprus and Lebanon on their marine borders.
Habib said the fresh proposals on the maritime borders were made by the United States, in a mediating role between Lebanon and Israel, at the end of January. He said the proposals "were better than the ones tabled before."
The Lebanese foreign minister further said that his country is ready to cooperate with Cyprus on energy issues once it finds natural gas.
After Egypt and Israel, Cyprus is the third country in the eastern Mediterranean region to tap natural gas reserves in its exclusive economic zone. Lebanon is currently in the process of licensing gas exploration.
Habib spoke of the close relations between Cyprus and Lebanon, expressing his gratitude to Cyprus for being a safe haven for most Lebanese whenever there is a crisis in their country.
Cyprus and Lebanon are tied, along with Greece, in a trilateral cooperation agreement. Cypriot Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides said that Cyprus "looks forward to a fair and free parliamentary election process in Lebanon" that is scheduled for May 15.
Kasoulides said that the issue of stability in Lebanon was discussed by European Union (EU) countries, reiterating the willingness of Cyprus and the EU "to work with all constructive political forces, which will bring about reforms, accountability and responsibility towards the Lebanese people." ■