Report: Satterfield Again in Beirut Next Week for Demarcation Talks
US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Satterfield will return to Beirut next Tuesday to meet with Lebanese officials in the framework of his mediation over the demarcation of the territorial and maritime borders between Lebanon and Israel, al-Joumhouria daily reported on Friday.
The daily said that some “important developments” have emerged at the level of Satterfield’s negotiations over the border issue.
Satterfield is expected to arrive in Beirut early next week and is scheduled to hold meetings with Lebanese officials, according to al-Joumhouria.
On Tuesday he will meet with Speaker Nabih Berri to discuss Israel’s response after the mediation.
Last week, Berri described the outcome of the U.S.-mediated talks over the demarcation as a “victory for the Lebanese stance.”
Satterfield, held a meeting in Beirut on Monday on his second visit in a week and "told officials Israel had agreed to hold negotiations to draw up the maritime border" with Lebanon.
Israel also agreed to discuss the territorial frontier between the two countries, including several disputed areas, a source said.
Last year, Lebanon signed its first contract to drill for oil and gas in its waters, including for a block disputed by Israel, with which it has fought several wars.
Israel and Lebanon are still technically at war, although the last Israeli troops withdrew from southern Lebanon in 2000 after two decades of occupation.
A consortium composed of energy giants Total, ENI and Novatek was awarded two of Lebanon's 10 exploration blocks last year.
It is set to start drilling in block 4 in December, and later in the disputed block 9.
Last year, Total said it was aware of the border dispute in less than eight percent of block 9 and said it would drill away from that area.
On April 5, Lebanon invited international consortia to bid for five more blocks, which include two also adjacent to Israel's waters.