The first session of the US-mediated border demarcation between Lebanon and Israel took place in southern Lebanon, amid heightened security measures.
The talks were held at the headquarters of the UNIFIL in the border city of Naqoura on Wednesday morning.
As a security measure, the area surrounding the headquarters was isolated, and the UNIFIL, in addition to the Lebanese Army, conducted land and sea patrols. Additionally, civilians, cars, and boats were prohibited from entering the area.
On the Lebanese side, the negotiations are being conducted by a delegation consisting of four members: two military officers and two civilian experts, headed by Lebanese Army Air Force Brig. Gen. Bassam Yassin.
Notably, the “Shiite Duo” of Hezbollah and Amal Movement expressed disapproval of the delegation’s formation, hours ahead of the start of the first negotiation session, saying that it was incompatible with the framework agreement.
On the eve of the talks, President Michel Aoun met with UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Jan Kubis at the presidential palace in Baabda, before meeting the Lebanese delegation.
The president reiterated that the negotiations with Israel do not mean normalizing relations. “The negotiations are technical and talks should be limited to [border demarcation] only,” he said.
According to LBCI, this first session mostly has an exploratory nature and is not supposed to involve in-depth discussions and exchanges of ideas.
Reportedly, a photo marking the event was taken during the Wednesday session, but the Lebanese delegation refused to be included in it next to its Israeli counterpart.
The next negotiation session is due on October 28th.
The framework agreement for the indirect talks that started on Wednesday was announced 2 weeks ago by Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri, who said that the border demarcation would be beneficial to Lebanon’s economy.