A senior U.S. official newly tasked with helping to mediate a solution to the maritime border dispute between Lebanon and Israel said he would not wait long before abandoning his efforts.
U.S. Assistant State Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs David Schenker, who recently replaced David Satterfield in his post, made the comments to journalists at the U.S Embassy in Beirut.
“Ambassador Satterfield is an incredibly gifted, talented and patient diplomat. I don’t think I have the patience of Satterfield and I am happy to look at this a bit, but he spent more than a year on this. I will not do so,” Schenker said.
“I want to make it so that you can enter into negotiations with your neighbors. It would be great if you did, but if you don’t, I’m going to go back home and eat dinner. It’s not going to keep me awake,” Schenker added.
Satterfield had begun shuttling between Beirut and Israel in May in the latest attempt by the U.S to mediate a solution to the issue. Since then, Lebanese and Israeli politicians have given both positive and negative assessments of progress on setting the framework for negotiations at different points, but efforts have so far been inconclusive.
Schenker said the ball was in Lebanon’s court. “We haven’t talked about negotiations, we are talking about a framework for negotiations that both Lebanese and Israelis have to decide on. Right now, the Lebanese government hasn’t decided to take that decision to proceed with negotiations,” Schenker said.
Photo source: The Daily Star Website