The UK Defense Senior Advisor to the Middle East and North Africa (DSAME) Air Marshal Martin Sampson conducted a three-day visit to Lebanon from 23 to 25 January.
During the visit, he met with Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri, caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati and Commander in Chief of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) General Joseph Aoun. He was accompanied by the British Ambassador to Lebanon, Hamish Cowell, and the UK’s Defense Attaché Lt. Colonel Lee Saunders.
At the UNIFIL Headquarters in Naqoura, Sampson toured the Blue Line and underlined the UK’s “full support for UNIFIL’s work in south Lebanon, as mandated in UN Resolution 1701, and offered his condolences following the tragic death of Private Sean Rooney,” the British embassy said in a statement. He was accompanied by the UK’s new Deputy Head of Mission, Camilla Nickless.
Sampson also met the inspiring Lebanese endurance athlete Michael Haddad. He was “inspired to hear about Mr Haddad’s ambitious plan to walk 100 kilometers across the North Pole later this year, in order to draw attention to the devastating impact of climate change,” the statement said.
British Ambassador Cowell for his part said: “It is a pleasure to welcome Air Marshal Sampson to Lebanon. The longstanding cooperation and partnership between the UK’s Armed Forces and the Lebanese Armed Forces makes a significant contribution to Lebanon’s security, sovereignty and prosperity. The UK will continue to do all we can to support this, including through our agreement last month for a further £13 million commitment to support the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF).”
“I also take this opportunity to express my admiration for Michael Haddad’s achievements. He is an inspirational role model. I wish him the best of luck in his upcoming North Pole expedition,” Cowell added.
Sampson meanwhile said: “It was an important visit to Lebanon, hearing about the impact of the severe economic crisis on the Lebanese people in general and the Lebanese Armed Forces in particular. I admire the courage and resilience of the Lebanese people and that of the LAF in face of adversity. The UK remains committed to strengthening our bilateral cooperation between our two countries and supporting the LAF’s resilience.”
“I conveyed my condolences and support to UNIFIL over the tragic incident which resulted in the tragic death of Private Sean Rooney and injured three others. We reiterated the UK’s position that the perpetrators must be held to account. UNIFIL's mandate and operations in South Lebanon are important to stability and security for Lebanon and the region,” he added.
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