UNIFIL Head of Mission Major General Stefano Del Col meets with top Lebanese leaders
In his first official meetings as UNIFIL Force Commander and Head of Mission, Major General Stefano Del Col made separate courtesy calls to top Lebanese officials in Beirut today and yesterday, including with Lebanese President Michel Aoun, the Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri and Prime Minister designate Saad Hariri.
Major General Del Col, of Italy, who took the helm of UNIFIL on 7 August, also met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants, Gebran Bassil, the Lebanese Armed Forces Commander, General Joseph Aoun, and the Director of General Security, General Abbas Ibrahim.
Discussions focused on Lebanon’s security and political situation, the implementation of UNIFIL's mandate under UN Security Council Resolution 1701 and the operational paragraphs of 2373, as well as the situation in UNIFIL’s Area of Operations in South Lebanon with special focus on continued strong cooperation between UNIFIL and the Lebanese Army.
“I am extremely grateful to the Lebanese leadership for their warm welcome, for their unwavering support of UNIFIL and for their deep commitment to the UN Security Council resolution 1701,” said Major General Del Col after the meetings. “The unremitting and sincere support UNIFIL receives from the Lebanese authorities is essential for the success of the Mission,” he added.
Del Col also stressed with the Lebanese leadership his intent to help ensure the continued stability in UNIFIL’s area of operations, and that it has been reassuring to hear from interlocutors how south Lebanon has benefited from twelve years of calm due to the joint efforts of the LAF and UNIFIL.
“We need to build on this momentum in order to preserve the stability that we have enjoyed since 2006 and move forward,” he said.
During the meetings, Major General Del Col also stressed the importance of the Mission’s relations with the local population.
“This is my third tour of duty in south of Lebanon and as I did in the past, I will continue working with full respect for the religious beliefs, traditions and cultural sensitivities of the host population. Our relationship with the people of the south goes back 40 years. This special bond needs to be cherished and respected.”