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Lebanon: Aoun Tells Satterfield Border Demarcation Enhances Stability in South

Lebanon: Aoun Tells Satterfield Border Demarcation Enhances Stability in South

Thursday, 16 May, 2019 - 07:00
Lebanese President Michel Aoun with Acting Assistant Secretary of Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs David Satterfield (NNA)
Beirut - Nazir Reda
Parties of the Lebanese government made an agreement that would provide “adequate conditions for extracting oil” from Lebanon's economic zone.

This unity was crystallized during a visit by Acting Assistant Secretary of Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs David Satterfield who discussed with Lebanese officials the demarcation of the southern maritime and land border, which remains controversial with the Israeli side.

Satterfield arrived in Beirut on Tuesday and met with President Michel Aoun, Speaker Nabih Berri, Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Foreign Minister Gibran Basil.

On Wednesday, Aoun informed the US official that Lebanon, “which holds onto its sovereignty at land, sea and air, believes that the demarcation of the land and sea borders would further promote stability along the border, in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1701.”

He called on Washington to help achieve this goal, particularly in respecting Lebanon's land and sea borders and its right to explore for oil and gas in the exclusive economic zone.

Aoun and Satterfield discussed the proposals handed over by Lebanon to US Ambassador to Beirut Elizabeth Richard, which included an action mechanism that could be adopted to demarcate the southern maritime border.

Closed sources agreed that there was growing effective talks to facilitate a UN-US-brokered agreement to demarcate the southern maritime border.

Satterfield’s talks reflected a “very positive” atmosphere that represents a real opportunity to restore Lebanon's full sovereign rights and provide suitable conditions for oil extraction, diplomatic sources told Asharq Al-Awsat.

The talks also highlighted some points that could hinder the Lebanese-approved solution. One of the points discusses the role of the UN, according to Lebanese sources familiar with the matter, stressing that the UN represents the international reference and the legitimacy of similar agreements.

The sources noted that the UN plays an essential role in this initiative, while the US plays the role of the mediator in the transfer of ideas and views. They further stressed the importance of the united Lebanese position on the matter, amid a strong refusal of tampering with the Lebanon's rights.

Sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that the negotiation process would resolve the issues of land border and demarcation of the maritime border. There are proposals for the negotiation mechanism to be similar to that
of delineating the land borders under the auspices of the United Nations.

Satterfield reviewed with Berri, Hariri and Basil, in separate meetings, the current developments in Lebanon and the region. Talks in all the meetings focused on the demarcation of the maritime and land borders. The atmosphere of the meetings were reported as “positive.”

Following the weekly Wednesday meeting with the Speaker, parliamentarians reported Berri as praising the atmosphere with things moving in the right direction, which is due to the “unified Lebanese position."

Hariri received Satterfield for the second time and discussed local and regional developments as well as Lebanese-US ties.

For his part, Basil also presented a number of solutions that preserve Lebanon's full land and maritime rights and achieve its national interest. The FM will also continue his consultations in Lebanon and with international parties to reach a final solution that opens the way for Lebanon to invest in energy fields.

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