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Schenker from Beirut: Washington to Help in Border Demarcation

Schenker from Beirut: Washington to Help in Border Demarcation

Wednesday, 11 September, 2019 - 07:30
In this photo released by Lebanon's official government photographer Dalati Nohra, Lebanese President Michel Aoun, right, meets with David Schenker, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, at the presidential palace, in Baabda east of Beirut, Lebanon, Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019. (AP Photo)
Beirut - Asharq Al-Awsat
Meetings held between Lebanese officials and visiting US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Schenker have revived hopes on the resumption of negotiations on a maritime border dispute between Lebanon and Israel.

The meetings in Beirut have tackled obstacles that had hindered the mediation carried out by Schenker’s predecessor David Satterfield.

Schenker met Tuesday with Lebanese President Michel Aoun, Speaker Nabih Berri, former PM Najib Mikati, Progressive Socialist Party chief Walid Jumblatt and head of the Kataeb Party MP Sami Gemayel. On Monday, he agreed during talks with Prime Minister Saad Hariri on the need to abide by UN Security Council resolutions namely 1701.

Reliable sources told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that the US official called for picking up the negotiations from where they stopped.

“Lebanon hopes that the United States will continue its mediation efforts... picking up where things stopped with envoy David Satterfield,” Aoun said. “We have agreed on many points, only a few sticking points remain,” he added.

“Lebanon is committed to Resolution 1701 while Israel is violating it, and any escalation by it will undermine the stable situation in the border region,” the president warned.

Concerning Syrian refugees, Aoun told the US official that "Lebanon continues to facilitate the return of displaced Syrians, and the number of voluntary returnees has reached 352,000."

He called on the US to help Lebanon facilitate the return of the displaced, saying “Lebanon can no longer bear the consequences of the Syrian displacement.”

“The United Nations and other humanitarian agencies must provide assistance to displaced people in Syria to help them return to their villages and lands."

Schenker said the US was ready to “renew efforts toward the demarcation of land and sea borders in south Lebanon,” and was keen to strengthen bilateral relations, especially in terms of supporting the Lebanese military and security forces.

In his meeting with the US official, Berri said that Lebanon has approved financial laws that make it compliant with the highest international standards in the field of combating the smuggling and laundering of funds.

He reiterated that Lebanon cannot handle additional economic pressure.

Berri also emphasized Lebanon’s “keenness on stability, avoidance of war and commitment to UN resolutions, especially 1701,” noting that Israel is responsible for the violations of the UN resolution.

They also discussed the maritime border dispute with Israel.

As for Mikati, he stressed the importance of Lebanese-US ties, praising Washington's support to the army and security institutions which helps maintain stability and security.

A US Embassy statement said Schenker “reaffirmed the importance of preserving Lebanon’s security, stability, and sovereignty.”

It added that Schenker is holding a regional tour that includes Lebanon, Iraq, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan.

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