Satterfield Tours Blue Line, Meets Aoun and Army Chief

David Satterfield, the U.S. acting assistant secretary of state, on Thursday toured the Blue Line – the U.N.-demarcated border line between Lebanon and Israel – amid high tensions in the area.

Accompanied by General Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim, Satterfield arrived earlier at the headquarters of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in Naqoura where he held talks with the force commander Maj. Gen. Michael Beary.

The National News Agency said talks tackled the latest developments in the South, especially the issue of Israel's construction of a controversial border wall which Lebanon says would encroach on its territory.

Later in the day, Satterfield held talks in Baabda with President Michel Aoun.

The meeting addressed “the general situations and the latest developments in the South in light of the Israeli threats, after Israel started building a cement wall off the southern border and following its defense minister's claim that (offshore gas) Block 9 belongs to Israel,” NNA said.

“The discussions tackled the U.S. efforts addressing the new situation, with Satterfield offering suggestions aimed at preserving stability and calm in the border region,” the agency added.

Aoun for his part informed the U.S. visitor of Lebanon's stance, which was declared in Thursday's cabinet session and in the meeting of the Higher Defense Council on Wednesday.

Satterfield meanwhile emphasized to Aoun his country's support for the Lebanese state institutions, especially the army and security forces, lauding “the role they are playing to protect stability in Lebanon,” NNA said.

Also on Thursday, the visiting U.S. official held talks with Army Command General Joseph Aoun, in the presence of U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Elizabeth Richard.

Talks tackled the general situations in Lebanon and the region and cooperation between the two armies, as Gen. Aoun briefed the U.S. visitor on Israel's violations against Lebanese sovereignty and the latest developments in the South.

The army chief warned that Israel is seeking to build a wall that passes in areas claimed by Lebanon.

Separately, Satterfield and Richard visited the tomb of slain ex-premier Rafik Hariri in downtown Beirut where the U.S. diplomat laid a wreath of flowers.

Satterfield described the late ex-PM as an unforgettable person and a great friend of the United States.

Source: Naharnet

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