| 28 October 2021, Thursday |

Four topics to be discussed by the American delegation in Beirut

A high-level US delegation will visit Beirut on Thursday headed by the newly appointed US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, her Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Ethan Goldrich, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs Eric Mayer.

The visit is considered the first of its kind after the government formation, as the discussion with Lebanese officials will focus on topics related to bilateral cooperation and the developments of the Lebanese crisis, Western diplomatic sources told Sawt Beirut International (SBI), which are as follows:

– Presenting American ideas related to the appropriate removal of the exception from “Caesar’s Law” regarding the provision of Egyptian gas and Jordanian electricity through financing from the World Bank. Whereas, the US administration agreed to pass this energy through Syria to Lebanon for humanitarian reasons.

– Inquiries from the Lebanese officials about the possibility of resuming maritime border demarcation talks with Israel and the basis on which they will submit to these negotiations. Lebanon modified its view of its maritime borders in terms of the consideration that its rights reach point 29 instead of point 43, which makes it obtain 2,290 km. But the decree on this is still not signed in order to amend it, and it needs the signature of the President of the Republic.

Therefore, Washington wants to know the basis that Lebanon to adopt to resume talks that have been suspended since May, and how serious it is. Negotiations were halted due to Israel’s rejection of the new Lebanese position. On October 20, Washington will send the Adviser to the Minister of State for Energy Affairs, Amos Hochstein, to Lebanon and Israel in order to formulate a new approach to re-negotiating. Hochstein was the first to work on the indirect negotiation file under US auspices to demarcate the maritime borders about six years ago.

– The delegation will call on Lebanon to implement economic reforms as soon as possible as a basic entry point for implementing the recovery plan with the International Monetary Fund. The delegation will explore the government’s perception in this regard in order to obtain international support later.

– Informing Lebanon of the US strictness regarding holding the parliamentary elections on time. The delegation will meet with the political forces, and civil society, to see their preparations for this entitlement. The delegation will inform Lebanon that the US Administration is ready to finance the elections if the situation of the Lebanese treasury continues to be critical and it is unable to finance it.

Well-informed diplomatic sources confirmed that Lebanon will not approach the American delegation with the Iranian offer on electricity in terms of exceptions, because it knows Washington’s position. Lebanon realizes that before an American-Iranian deal is reached on the nuclear file, there will be no American solution regarding sanctions on Iran. It is not necessary for Lebanon to enter into such an issue and embarrass its position in front of the Americans, amid its quest to extricate itself from Arab and international isolation, politically and economically.

The sources noted that the delegation’s visit to Lebanon will convey the American messages directly, despite the recent release of France’s hand in the Lebanese file. However, the United States will not abandon Lebanon, and it is betting on the results of the parliamentary elections.