|Date: May 23, 2019|
|Source: The Daily Star|
|Berri ‘optimistic’ about Israel border negotiations|
|BEIRUT: Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri is “optimistic” about the outcome of U.S.-facilitated talks over Lebanon’s disputed southern border with Israel, an MP affiliated with his Amal Movement said Wednesday.|
Speaking to reporters after a weekly meeting of Amal’s Development and Liberation parliamentary bloc, MP Ali Bazzi said the next few days before the return of U.S. envoy David Satterfield to Lebanon were “crucial” to the talks.
“Maybe next week we will have the answer about the whole Lebanese proposal,” Berri said, according to a statement from his office.
Satterfield, the acting U.S. assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, informed Berri, Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil Monday that Israel had agreed to Lebanon’s conditions to renegotiate the border dispute.
Satterfield told officials that Israel had agreed to two Lebanese demands: That the United Nations play a role in the mediation, and that both the land and sea border disputes be resolved together.
“This is the position that Berri has worked on for more than five years,” Bazzi said Wednesday.
Berri said the most recent developments on the border issue marked “a victory for the official and popular Lebanese stance,” and attributed its success to “the unity of the Lebanese position.”
Satterfield is set to return to Lebanon next week, following a visit to Europe, Bazzi said.
The American diplomat was scheduled to depart for Israel Tuesday, a source previously told The Daily Star, the latest leg in his shuttle diplomacy between the two Mediterranean enemies.
The de facto land border between Israel and Lebanon, the U.N.-demarcated Blue Line, contains at least 13 points disputed by the Lebanese government, while around 856 square kilometers of sea is claimed by each country as part of its exclusive economic zone.