UNIFIL Head Lauds Hariri for Reaffirming Lebanon Commitment to 1701
UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force Commander Major General Michael Beary on Friday commended Prime Minister Saad Hariri for reaffirming Lebanon’s commitment to U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701 and a permanent ceasefire.
Beary was speaking during a meeting at UNIFIL's headquarters with Hariri and a high-level Lebanese delegation comprising Defense Minister Yaaqoub Sarraf, Army Commander General Joseph Aoun and a number of senior army officers and government officials.
Hariri paid his first visit to UNIFIL's headquarters as part of his tour of the UNIFIL area of operations in southern Lebanon. The visit comes a day after Hizbullah took a group of over 100 local and international journalists on a rare tour of the border with Israel.
Members of Hizbullah's armed wing stood guard on part of the tour, displaying weapons despite a prohibition stipulated by UNSCR 1701 on any armed paramilitary presence so close to the demarcation line.
Hariri said Friday that "what happened yesterday is something that we, as a government, are not concerned with and do not accept."
In his briefing to the Lebanese delegation, Beary expressed his deep appreciation for the “excellent cooperation accorded by the Government of Lebanon and LAF (Lebanese Armed Forces) in the fulfillment of UNIFIL’s mandate in accordance with the U.N. Security Council resolution 1701,” a UNIFIL statement said.
The UNIFIL head also said that the cooperation between UNIFIL and the Lebanese army has been crucial for preserving stability along the UN-demarcated Blue Line for more than 10 years.
“UNIFIL has been here for too many years,” said the UNIFIL head.
“We really need to get to a point where we are discussing permanent ceasefire and make sure that that term enters into the lexicon here and we move on to a real settlement,'' he added.
There has been rising speculation about a new conflict between Hizbullah and Israel, who fought a 34-day war in 2006 that ended after the approval of Resolution 1701.
That conflict killed 1,200 people in Lebanon, mainly civilians, and 160 Israelis, mostly soldiers.
Israel withdrew its forces from southern Lebanon in 2000, ending a 22-year occupation, but the two countries remain technically at war and there have been occasional skirmishes on the border.
During his visit to the South, Hariri urged U.N. chief Antonio Guterres to "support efforts to secure, as soon as possible, a state of permanent ceasefire."