Statement by Major-General Paolo Serra after meeting Lebanese Minister of Information
"I am very happy to welcome today the Minister of Information Mr. Walid Daouq and the Director General of the Ministry of Information Mr. Hassan Falha to UNIFIL headquarters.
We had an excellent meeting and I highly appreciate the Minister's initiative to visit us here in Naqoura. This is yet another example of our good relations with the Government of Lebanon in the spirit of mutual respect and support between UNIFIL and the government.
The importance of the informed support of the people of Lebanon to UNIFIL cannot be overstressed. The Ministry of Information has always been very supportive of our endeavour to better inform the people, both within Lebanon and outside, about our Mission so that they can understand and appreciate our activities in the right context.
I informed the Minister that the situation in our area of operations remains calm. We have strong commitment from both the parties to the implementation of resolution 1701 and they are working with UNIFIL to take all the necessary measures along the Blue Line so that the cessation of hostilities is maintained.
I expressed particular appreciation for the continued commitment of the Lebanese Armed Forces to our common operations despite the pressures they are under to reinforce security in other parts of the country. It is this strategic partnership of our two Forces that is the mainstay of our success in maintaining the calm in southern Lebanon and we have together stood up well to the latest challenges in these turbulent times.
Another important pillar of support for UNIFIL is the goodwill of the people of southern Lebanon. This relationship has not only stood the test of times, but in fact has grown from strength to strength. From adversity to adversity the bonds between the peacekeepers and our host population have grown stronger as we have stood together and shared in the sufferings as much as in the joys of the people.
It therefore baffles me when I see some of the sweeping generalisations that are sometimes made out of isolated incidents here and there, assigning sinister motives to them often where none exists, and to raise questions about the credentials of this enduring relationship.
Likewise, the support and commitment of the international community, and particularly our 37 troop contributing countries, to our Mission remains steadfast. Far from any country wanting to withdraw troops, we in fact have expressions of interest from more and more nations who would like to join UNIFIL.
Once again, my sincere thanks to Minister Daouq and Director General Falha for their visit today. I look forward to our continued cooperation in taking forward our Mission for the cause of peace and security in southern Lebanon.