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Satterfield Set for Lebanon to Deliver Israeli Message on Border Demarcation

Satterfield Set for Lebanon to Deliver Israeli Message on Border Demarcation

Monday, 17 June, 2019 - 05:30
Lebanese President Michel Aoun meets Acting US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Satterfield in Beirut last month. (Dalati & Nohra)
Tel Aviv - Asharq Al-Awsat
After holding several meetings with Israeli officials, Acting US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Satterfield is set to arrive in Beirut on Monday, carrying Tel Aviv’s response on resolving a dispute over their maritime border.

There are reports saying Israel and Lebanon have made significant progress toward opening direct talks on demarcating the border between the two countries.

An Israeli official predicted that such talks could start between the two sides next month “if no new obstacles arise.”

Last month, Israel said it was open to US-mediated talks with Lebanon on resolving a dispute over the issue. It also accepted a Lebanese demand to involve the United Nations in the effort and that both land and sea disputes be tackled together.

The Israeli official said that during Satterfield’s talks last week many of the issues that had delayed the negotiations were resolved, including the schedule of the talks.

Beirut had rejected that the talks be limited by any timeframe, as Israel demanded to conclude all negotiations within six months.

Satterfield hopes to leave Beirut to Tel Aviv after receiving the Lebanese officials’ final approval on the issue.

Until now, both sides have agreed on holding direct talks at the UN headquarters in Lebanon’s Naqoura, in the presence of a UN delegate.

Israel believes the two sides would likely reach an agreement next week, and that direct talks would commence some time in July.

Israeli authorities say that the Hezbollah party, which previously obstructed such talks, took a strategic decision to hold the negotiations with hopes to de-escalate tensions with Israel.

Last year, Lebanon signed its first contract to drill for oil and gas in its territorial waters.

The contract includes the disputed block 9, which Beirut says is in Lebanon’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), while Israel claims as its own.

The two countries have an unresolved maritime border dispute over a triangular area of sea measuring around 860 square kilometers.

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