U.S. envoy Amos Hochstein traveled to Beirut on Tuesday in an attempt to restart talks between Israel and Lebanon regarding their shared maritime border, the Times of Israel reported.
Hochstein, who was born in Israel, is a longtime friend of President Joe Biden who appointed him to the position. He will also be discussing Lebanon’s increasingly urgent energy crisis.
Lebanon’s economic crisis has gotten steadily worse since 2019, after decades of government corruption and neglect. Gas and electricity has been rationed to a handful of hours a day, and frustrated citizens and people allegedly aligned with militia and terrorist groups have pitched gun battles in the streets.
While there, he will “underscore the Biden administration’s willingness to help Lebanon and Israel find a mutually agreeable solution to their shared maritime boundary for the benefit of both peoples,” a State Department statement said.
The border dispute between Israel and Lebanon has halted oil and gas explorations in the area. The two countries, which do not have formal diplomatic relations, both claim an area of roughly 330 square miles in the Mediterranean Sea for their own exclusive economic development.
Hochstein previously served as a mediator on border tensions in the Obama administration, and is expected to visit Israel soon.