Report: Berri-Bassil Oil Talks to Pave Way for New Electoral Law

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The meeting that was held in Ain al-Tineh between Speaker Nabih Berri and Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil in the presence of Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil did not involve any discussions about the presidential crisis and the two sides focused on the oil and gas exploration file, a media report said on Monday.

Al-Mustaqbal newspaper quoted unnamed sources as saying that Berri's rapprochement with Free Patriotic Movement founder MP Michel Aoun is not linked to the presidential issue. “The meeting with Bassil did not include any word about the presidency,” the daily quoted Berri as saying.

“The issue of oil is something and the presidency is a totally separate issue, but what happened is definitely important in terms of improving the relation with Aoun, pacifying the situation in the country, and immunizing its rights,” Berri added, according to the newspaper.

Sources close to Berri meanwhile told An Nahar newspaper that “the oil agreement was not the starting point of the package deal that involves a deal over the presidency, but rather a gateway for agreeing on a new electoral law.”

“The indications about a possible agreement emerged from the meeting between Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea and al-Mustaqbal Movement leader ex-PM Saad Hariri, and the meeting between Geagea and MP Walid Jumblat, during which the parties confirmed their acceptance, in principle, of a hybrid electoral law that mixes the proportional representation and the winner-takes-all systems,” the sources added.

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