During visit to UNIFIL HQ, Lebanese Minister of Defence discusses LAF capacity-building and enhanced cooperation with UNIFIL
Lebanese Caretaker Minister of Defence, Yaacoub Sarraf, and UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force Commander, Major General Stefano Del Col, met today in Naqoura to discuss efforts to maintain the overall stability in the south of Lebanon.
They especially discussed enhanced cooperation between the UN Peacekeeping Mission and the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) in the area of operation (AO) south of the Litani River as well as steps taken to implement UN Security Council resolution 1701 (2006) and related resolutions of 2373 (2017) and 2433 (2018).
Discussions included the overall situation in the south of Lebanon and along the Blue Line, the importance of ensuring the freedom of movement of UNIFIL peacekeepers in implementing its Mandate, and of utilizing the Mission’s liaison and coordination mechanisms to address any potential tensions.
Major General Del Col said that the cooperation between UNIFIL and LAF has been crucial in preserving stability along the Blue Line for more than 12 years. “UNIFIL’s liaison and coordination arrangements through the Tripartite forum have been of strategic importance to de-escalate tensions and improve confidence-building, including by avoiding any unilateral action along sensitive parts of the Blue Line,” he said.
Minister Sarraf noted that his visit to Naqoura was also to “renew the commitment of the Lebanese government to the UN Resolutions, especially 1701,” while praising the cooperation between the Lebanese Army and the UN Peacekeepers in south Lebanon.
“I congratulate UNIFIL for the proactive cooperation that has contributed to the stability of this area, especially with the local population,” he said after the meeting.
During the meeting, they also discussed capacity building of the Lebanese Army and strengthening its presence in the UNIFIL area of operation - on the ground and at sea.
On the deployment of the LAF Model Regiment, Major General Del Col assured the visiting dignitary that UNIFIL stands ready to further assist the LAF in the process.
“The establishment of the Model Regiment will further demonstrate the commitment of the State to consolidate its authority and control the security of south Lebanon,” said the UNIFIL head.
While unanimously adopting resolution 2433 (2018) that renewed UNIFIL’s mandate for another year on 30 August, the UN Security Council encourages Lebanon to deploy a model regiment and an offshore patrol vessel in UNIFIL’s area of operations as a way to advance implementation of resolution 1701 and extend State authority. The Council also called on both UNIFIL and LAF to strengthen their coordinated actions in this regard.