Force Commander briefs Lebanese officials on UNIFIL mandate extension

6 Sep 2011

Force Commander briefs Lebanese officials on UNIFIL mandate extension

Beirut, 6 September 2011 - UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force Commander Major-General Alberto Asarta Cuevas this morning called on Prime Minister Najib Mikati and later in the day Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri to brief them on the extension of UNIFIL's mandate for another year.

Discussions also focused on the peacekeepers' activities and the general situation in the south in the context of UNIFIL's mandate under UN Security Council resolution 1701 as well as the safety of UNIFIL troops.

"The UN Security Council's unanimous decision to extend the mandate without any changes is a testament to the right course we are following in cooperation and coordination with the Lebanese Armed Forces," Major-General Asarta said.

UNIFIL is deployed at the request of the Government of Lebanon and UNIFIL welcomes the continued support and appreciation it has received from the Lebanese, he said.

The Force Commander stressed: "While significant progress has been achieved in the south, which is seeing the calmest period in decades, there still is a need to build on what was done so far."

"By restoring and maintaining stability in southern Lebanon in cooperation with LAF, UNIFIL provides a window of opportunity for a permanent ceasefire and long-term solution to the conflict as envisioned in resolution 1701," he added, recalling that the Security Council has once again urged all parties to make tangible progress towards this goal.

Major-General Asarta noted the Security Council's assertion to further enhance cooperation and coordination between UNIFIL and LAF.

"Our ongoing strategic dialogue with the LAF must be accelerated in order to realistically correlate our respective capacities and responsibilities on the ground," Major-General Asarta said. "At the same time, as also emphasized by the Security Council, it is very important that the LAF gets all the assistance it needs from the international community in order to perform the tasks under resolution 1701."

Major-General Asarta expressed appreciation at the condemnation by the Lebanese leaders of the attacks against UNIFIL convoys in recent months and the measures taken to ensure security of UNIFIL peacekeepers. He urged the Lebanese authorities to make every effort to bring the culprits to justice and prevent further attacks.

The Force Commander said UNIFIL will not be deterred by such acts of intimidation. UNIFIL is determined to continue implementing its mandate in accordance with resolution 1701, he said.