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Satterfield in Beirut for border dispute talks.

Summary: Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Acting U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Satterfield met in Beirut Tuesday

BEIRUT: Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Acting U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Satterfield met in Beirut Tuesday after the latter arrived for a two-day visit centered on Lebanon's border dispute with Israel. A statement from Hariri's office said the two met at the Grand Serail to discuss local and regional developments as well as Lebanese-U.S. ties. Satterfield is also expected to meet with Speaker Nabih Berri followed by a meeting with Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil at 9 a.m. Wednesday and President Michel Aoun in Baabda Palace later Wednesday afternoon.

His trip comes on the heels of last week's meeting between Aoun and U.S. Ambassador Elizabeth Richard. The president presented Richard with a "unified" stance on the demarcation of Lebanon's border with Israel.

A political source told The Daily Star at the time that "there has been a revival to the land and maritime border demarcation progress after it had been put on hold."

Washington previously said it was ready to mediate and find a solution, but that Lebanese leaders needed a uniform stance before the country could proceed.

Aoun and Berri have called for official delineation of the southern maritime border between the two countries. In late March, President Aoun asked U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to assist with the process and "convince" Israel to cooperate with Lebanon on the problematic matter.

Berri has said Lebanon would agree to mark its border with Israel under U.N. supervision, via the same mechanism that demarcates the Blue Line land border.

The issue of delineating the maritime border has become more pressing in recent years as Lebanon prepares to embark on oil and gas exploration projects in the Mediterranean Sea. One of the two areas set out for exploration sits partially in disputed territory.

Earlier Tuesday, Satterfield headed to Bkirki to offer his condolences for the death of former Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Mar Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir.

Satterfield described Sfeir as a defender of Lebanon's sovereignty and independence. "Our thoughts go to his church, family and all of Lebanon ... He has our utmost respect," he said in televised remarks after.

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Publication:The Daily Star (Beirut, Lebanon)
Geographic Code:7ISRA
Date:May 15, 2019
Words:395
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