4 Sep 2018
UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force Commander Major General Stefano Del Col met today with Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) Commander, General Joseph Aoun, at the UN Peacekeepers’ Headquarters in south Lebanon to discuss operational imperatives for the two forces following the renewal of UNIFIL’s mandate by the UN Security Council.
Discussions included a wide range of issues to further enhance the coordination between the two forces in south Lebanon and the capability of LAF, which has helped ensure over 12-years of overall stability in UNIFIL’s area of operations south of the Litani River.
“Despite the regional turmoil, the LAF continues to show resilience and its ability in preserving stability through the efforts and sacrifices of its troops and the Lebanese security apparatuses,” said Major General Del Col after the meeting.
The discussions also focused on the provisions stipulated in the UN Security Council resolution 2433, adopted on 30 August to extend UNIFIL’s mandate for another year under UN Security Council resolution 1701 (2006). We are closely coordinating with LAF to ensure UNIFIL’s freedom of movement and access to the Blue Line, in all its parts as well as the safety and security of our peacekeepers, which is integral to the effective execution of our mandated tasks
In comments after the meeting UNIFIL Force Commander Del Col also noted that:” We have a common intent to ensure stability in the area of operations and, among other things, ensure that the area is free of unauthorized weapons and hostile activities of any kind.”
Major General Del Col stressed the importance of building on the momentum of an already enhanced presence of UNIFIL and LAF coordination, noting that a priority for the international community and UNIFIL is to further build the capacity of LAF in southern Lebanon.
“The establishment of the (LAF) Model Regiment, for example, is an important step forward to extend state authority and security, and preserve stability,” Del Col said.
In adopting resolution 2433, the Security Council also encouraged Lebanon to deploy an offshore patrol vessel in Lebanese territorial waters.
Major General Del Col also commended the LAF for its active engagement in the UNIFIL-led tripartite and liaison mechanisms, which have helped in de-escalating tensions, especially along the Blue Line, and in building trust between the parties.
“The Tripartite Forum is a unique confidence building mechanism that has also been instrumental in preventing misunderstandings and preserving stability in the area,” he continued.”
For his part, General Aoun expressed appreciation for UNIFIL and the 41 countries contributing troops to the peacekeeping force who are helping to further strengthen LAF and maintain calm in south Lebanon.
“I would like to extend the full support of the LAF to Major General Del Col for the success of this mission. The excellent cooperation and coordination between the two forces has dramatically improved the security situation and been instrumental in providing the stability to UNIFIL’s area of operations,” said LAF Commander General Aoun after the meeting.
“The calm that has prevailed in the south of Lebanon is reflected in the whole country,” he said, adding that he is looking forward to further enhance the cooperation between the two forces to fully implement UNSCR 1701.