Lebanon’s Top Officials Meet to Unify Position ahead of Tillerson’s Arrival

Lebanon’s Top Officials Meet to Unify Position ahead of Tillerson’s Arrival

Tuesday, 13 February, 2018 - 08:00
Lebanese President Michel Aoun, Speaker Nabih Berri and PM Saad Hariri meet at the Presidential Palace in Baabda. (Dalati & Nohra)
Beirut - Caroline Akoum
Lebanon’s top officials held intense talks on Monday ahead of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s scheduled visit to Beirut later this week amid tensions with Israel over offshore energy exploration and its construction of a border wall in the South.

President Michel Aoun met on Monday Speaker Nabih Berri and Prime Minister Saad Hariri at the Presidential Palace in Baabda to discuss the latest Israeli threats, including the separation wall that it started to build in Ras Naqoura last week, and Beirut’s plans to explore Bloc 9, which Tel Aviv claims is within its maritime border.

Their meeting was preceded by a tripartite military meeting in Ras Naqoura to discuss Israel's position on Lebanon's objection to the construction of the concrete wall.

At the end of the Baabda meeting, Hariri said: "Our direction is to always have a unified position from any Israeli aggression against Lebanon."

Sources informed on the meeting told Asharq Al-Awsat that Lebanon is committed to its land and maritime borders and is open to the US mediation, kicked off by US Deputy Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, David Satterfield, during his recent visit to Beirut.

“The US proposal is similar to the so-called Hoff Line, presented by former ambassador Frederick Hoff, who had suggested an agreement in 2011 to demarcate the maritime border between Lebanon and Israel, by giving Lebanon about 550 square kilometers from the 860 square kilometers area,” the sources explained.

Although Lebanon rejected this proposal, Beirut remains open to the US mediation, the sources added.

They explained that the Lebanese decision regarding the dispute with Israel will be finalized after carefully studying the suggestions carried by Tillerson during his talks in Lebanon.

The US official is set to arrive in Beirut on Thursday.

Concerning the separation wall that Israel is currently building along its Lebanese border, the sources said that Beirut’s stance is not open to debate.

“Lebanon informed Israel through the UN during Monday’s meeting in Naqoura that it rejects giving up an inch of land to Israel.”

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