Lebanon receives Israeli response to border demarcation

US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State David Satterfield, right, who is attempting to mediate a border dispute between Lebanon and Israel, meets with Lebanese Foreign Minister Gibran Bassil at the Lebanese foreign ministry in Beirut, Lebanon, Tuesday, May 28, 2019. (AP)
Updated 28 May 2019
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Lebanon receives Israeli response to border demarcation

  • Lebanese Foreign Ministry sources said after Satterfield’s meeting with Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil that the atmosphere was “positive”

BEIRUT: David Satterfield, deputy US assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, conveyed Israel’s response to Lebanon regarding negotiations on border demarcation.

Sources at the Lebanese prime minister’s office said negotiations will focus on demarcating the maritime border, and will also tackle disputed points on the Blue Line, a border demarcation published by the UN in June 2000 to determine whether Israel had fully withdrawn from Lebanon. There are 13 disputed points on the Blue Line.

Lebanese Foreign Ministry sources said after Satterfield’s meeting with Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil that the atmosphere was “positive.”

They added that the final touches were being put on the form of negotiations and the role of concerned parties, including the UN, Lebanon, Israel and the US. Satterfield also met with Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri.

Lebanon’s presidential media office said President Michel Aoun on Monday discussed with Jan Kubis, the UN special coordinator in Lebanon, the UN’s role “in helping to demarcate the southern Lebanese border.”

Lebanon delivered a proposal to Satterfield stressing its “determination to demarcate the maritime border through the tripartite commission originally formed in April 1996, as was done for the Blue Line after liberation in 2000, which is to be completed by a White Line in the sea.”

Beirut said it rejected “any direct Israeli-Lebanese negotiations,” and “demanded negotiations involving officers from Lebanon, Israel and the United Nations, with the participation of topographic and oil experts. The function of the tripartite committee is to demarcate the maritime line. There is no objection to the participation of American diplomats in the tripartite demarcation, provided that they are neutral.”

The head of the union of workers in the gas and exploration sector in Lebanon, Maroun Al-Khouli, said: “Solving this problem with Israel will establish a significant renaissance in Lebanon’s investment in its oil resources in the maritime economic zone, especially as Lebanon is preparing to begin drilling for oil and gas in blocks 4 and 9 in its territorial waters.”

He added: “This will also help large companies, including American companies, to enter the field of exploration in the second licensing cycle, which will be launched later.”


Iraqi forces launch anti-Daesh operation north of Baghdad

Updated 20 July 2019
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Iraqi forces launch anti-Daesh operation north of Baghdad

  • The mainly Shiite PMF have been an effective force against Daesh
  • This is the second phase of the operation dubbed “Will to Victory”

BAGHDAD: Iraq’s military said Saturday its troops in partnership with security agencies and paramilitary forces launched the second phase of an operation aimed at clearing remnants of the Daesh group from north of Baghdad and surrounding areas.
This is the second phase of the operation dubbed “Will to Victory,” which started two weeks earlier and targeted the area along the border with Syria. The military said the new target area is north of Baghdad and in the Diyala, Salahuddin and Anbar provinces.
Although Iraq declared victory against Daesh in July 2017, the extremists have turned into an insurgency and continue to carry out deadly attacks in the country.
The military said Iraqi troops, Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Forces, the federal police and others are taking part in the operation supported by the Iraqis and the U.S-led international coalition.
On Saturday, Iraq’s Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi visited the operation room alongside the deputy head of the PMF, Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis.
Earlier this month, the Iraqi government moved to place the Iranian-backed militias under the command of the armed forces. The move was believed to be an attempt to curb the powerful militias, particularly amid rising tension between Iran and the US, the power brokers in Iraq.
The mainly Shiite PMF have been an effective force against Daesh and are a significant political force, with government ministers and 48 seats in the 329-member parliament.