UNIFIL Head of Mission and Lebanon’s new Defence Minister hold their first meeting
UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force Commander Major General Stefano Del Col today held his first meeting with the newly appointed Lebanese Minister of Defence Elias Bou Saab in Beirut to discuss the situation in the UNIFIL area of operation and the continued cooperation with the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF).
While congratulating Minister Bou Saab on his appointment, Major General Del Col said the UN mission is looking forward to advancing UNIFIL-LAF cooperation in south Lebanon. He also briefed the Minister on the situation in UNIFIL’s 1,060 square kilometre area of operation and along the Blue Line, which continues to remain calm.
Major General Del Col expressed gratitude for the continued support of Lebanese authorities in the implementation of UNIFIL’s mandate.
During the meeting, the UNIFIL head also reiterated the UN’s call for the LAF to undertake follow-up actions on the recently discovered tunnels north of the Blue Line.
Separately, in line with UN Security Council resolution 2433, adopted in August 2018, Major General Del Col stressed the importance for the LAF to scale up the rapid deployment of its Model Regiment in south Lebanon.
“UNIFIL is engaged with a variety of potential donors to facilitate this process; however, at the same time it is vital that the LAF be seen as prioritizing this effort,” he said. He also called on the LAF to build a “right-sized and sustainable naval component.”
With the formation of a new Cabinet last week, Minister Bou Saab replaced Yaacoub Sarraf as the Minister of Defence.