UNIFIL Commander Meets Officials, Urges their Support to 'Isolate Blue Line from Regional Unrest'

United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon commander Major General Luciano Portolano held talks on Tuesday with each of Speaker Nabih Berri, Prime Minister Tammam Salam and Minister of Interior Nouhad al-Mashnouq on the latest developments in southern Lebanon.

He briefed them on the continued efforts of UNIFIL to maintain the calm that has returned along the Blue Line since the serious breach of the cessation of hostilities that occurred on 4 January, said a UNIFIL statement.

Following the meetings, Portolano said: “Today I had very good meetings with the Lebanese leaders. I shared my concerns at the recent incidents along the Blue Line, where we witnessed two instances of grave violations of resolution 1701 on December 20 and January 4.”

“These incidents interrupted an extended period of calm and stability that had prevailed through most of 2015, and risked precipitating a larger conflict across the Blue Line, a situation we were able to avoid thanks to the confidence of both parties in UNIFIL and their willingness to engage in our efforts to quickly defuse the situation and restore the cessation of hostilities,” he remarked.

“I thanked the leaders for their constant support to UNIFIL and called on their continued assistance in our endeavor to isolate the Blue Line from the destructive regional conflict,” he added.

“I also briefed about my discussions with the local authorities and religious leaders last week, and our wider engagement with the communities throughout the south, where the message to me has been loud and clear: no one wants any disruption in the safe and secure environment that has largely prevailed in the area since 2006,” stated Portolano.

“I assured the Lebanese leaders of UNIFIL’s strong determination to continue the implementation of our mandated tasks, working closely with the Lebanese army and other partners on the ground. I was encouraged by their positive appreciation of UNIFIL’s efforts and assurances of Lebanon’s firm commitment to U.N. Security Council resolution 1701 (2006),” he said.

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