UNIFIL head pays farewell visits to Lebanese leaders
UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force Commander Major-General Luciano Portolano today paid farewell visits to a number of senior Lebanese officials including the Speaker of the Lebanese Parliament, Nabih Berri and Prime Minister Tammam Salam, in the capital Beirut.
Major-General Portolano also called on, separately, the Commander of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), Jean Kahwaji, LAF Chief of Staff Major-General Walid Salman and the head of LAF Intelligence, Brigadier-General Camille Daher.
During his meetings, Major-General Portolano expressed satisfaction that, during his two years in Lebanon as the UNIFIL head, he felt being very close to the country, the people and the authorities.
“The people of Lebanon welcomed me as one of them,” he said during the meetings. “Their support and appreciation for the work carried out by UNIFIL has been extremely valuable. As the UNIFIL Head of Mission, I attach great importance to the Mission’s relationship with the people of the south as a key element to the success of the Mission.”
During today’s meetings in Beirut, the outgoing head of UNIFIL took special note of the Mission’s “extremely effective” coordination arrangements with LAF and other Lebanese security apparatuses while fulfilling its mandate according to the Security Council resolution 1701 (2006).
UNIFIL Head of Mission said: ”I was proud to work hand-in-hand with such encouraging leaders and I assured them that all our personnel – both military and civilian – will continue working with full respect for the religious beliefs, traditions and cultural sensitivities of the host population.”
“Thanks to the unflinching support of the Lebanese authorities and LAF, UNIFIL has always been able to find effective solutions aimed at de-escalating tensions in its area of operations in south Lebanon,” he said. “Preserving stability is in the interest of the parties and everybody is enjoying the calm that has largely prevailed in the south in recent years.”
Major-General Portolano is leaving UNIFIL next month after two years at the helm of the UN peacekeeping mission.
Over the course of this week, Major-General Portolano will be meeting a number of senior Lebanese figures as part of his farewell call with them.