King Felipe Inspects Spanish UNIFIL Contingent in Marjeyounإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Visiting Spanish King Felipe VI inspected on Wednesday his country's United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon contingent in the southern region of Marjeyoun, where Israeli artillery killed a Spanish peacekeeper in January.
He was accompanied by Defense Minister Samir Moqbel.
The king headed to the area aboard a military helicopter and was welcomed by UNIFIL Commander Maj. Gen. Luciano Portolano.
The king paid tribute to Corporal Francisco Javier Soria Toledo and the 12 other Spanish serviceman killed over the years in Lebanon on peacekeeping duty.
"I want... to pay a heartfelt tribute to all Spanish soldiers who have given their lives to fulfill their duty during missions, especially Corporal Francisco Javier Soria and the others who have died for this same mission," he said.
"They will remain in our memories forever. I am proud of you, of what you are, of what you do," added Felipe.
"Have no doubt, thanks to your dedication, your work, your discipline and your love of service, you contribute to make Spain and the world more secure and stronger," the king added.
On Tuesday, the king met with Prime Minister Tammam Salam, who lauded “the efforts of the Spanish battalion and its success in establishing the best ties with southern Lebanese citizens in its area of operations.”
And in the name of the Lebanese people, Salam offered condolences over the death of the Spanish soldier who was killed by Israeli shelling in January.
The monarch, who is accompanied by an official delegation, for his part called for "peace and harmony" in Lebanon.
The king's first visit to Lebanon since he took the throne last June follows a joint Spanish-Israeli probe into the death in January of Corporal Javier Soria Toledo, 36.
At the start of his two-day visit Felipe paid tribute to Soria and the 12 other Spanish serviceman killed over the years in Lebanon on peacekeeping duty.
"Spain's commitment to this (peacekeeping) aim is firm and decided," Felipe said.
Felipe VI arrived in Lebanon only hours after Israeli security sources acknowledged that the death of a Spanish U.N. peacekeeper in January was caused by Israeli fire.
The 10,000-strong United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) includes some 600 Spanish soldiers and troops from 35 other nations.