Lebanese Minister of Defense visits UNIFIL headquarters
The Minister of National Defense of Lebanon, Yaacoub Riad Sarraf, today visited UNIFIL headquarters in Naqoura as well as the main base of UNIFIL’s French-led Force Commander’s Reserve (FCR).
The Minister’s discussion with UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force Commander Major General Michael Beary centred around the importance of the expansion and enhancement of coordinated activities between UNIFIL and the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) in the area south of the Litani river.
“We discussed modalities related to the importance of strengthening the LAF presence in UNIFIL’s area of operations to preserve stability in the south, to prevent escalation along the Blue Line and to act proactively to address all outstanding issues in the implementation of resolution 1701 and other relevant Security Council resolutions,” said the UNIFIL head after the meeting. “It has been a very special visit, and we look forward to additional LAF troops being deployed to south Lebanon very soon.”
In his comments, Minister Sarraf reconfirmed Lebanon’s commitment to Security Council resolution 1701. “I am here to confirm to you and to everybody in the international community that, as promised, Lebanon is committed to increase the presence of the LAF south of the Litani, and once more we do engage, assure and deliver on what we promised,” he said. “I am here to assert and confirm that UNIFIL-LAF cooperation will grow.”
Major General Beary noted that the cooperation between UNIFIL and the LAF has been crucial for preserving stability along the Blue Line for more than 11 years.
He conveyed to Minister Sarraf UNIFIL’s particular appreciation for the LAF that continues to demonstrate exemplary resolve and professionalism in working with UNIFIL peacekeepers despite numerous security challenges around the country.
UNIFIL has around 10,500 peacekeepers coming from 41 troop contributing countries. The Mission maintains an intensive level of operational and other activities amounting to approximately 13,500 activities per month, day and night, in the area of operations. About 17 per cent of these activities are carried out jointly with the LAF. UNIFIL is also complemented by a seven-vessel strong Maritime Task Force that carries our maritime interdiction operations to prevent the illegal entry of weapons and other materials into Lebanon and which also contributes to a safe and stable maritime environment.