NNA – UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force Commander Major-General Luciano Portolano today called on Lebanese Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri and Prime Minister Tammam Salam in two separate meetings in Beirut.
Discussions focused on the situation in UNIFIL’s area of operations, regional situation, issues related to the recent incidents along the Blue Line and the implementation of UNIFIL’s mandate under UN Security Council Resolution 1701.
After the encounters, Major-General Portolano said: “I had very productive meetings with the leaders and I was encouraged by their words of strong support for the work of the Mission and for their unremitting commitment to peace and stability in south Lebanon.” And he added: “We discussed the situation in southern Lebanon and I briefed the leaders on the latest events related to the recent incidents and violations along the Blue Line in the vicinity of the Shebaa Farms. Notwithstanding that UNIFIL cannot address the question of status of the Shebaa Farms, our effort has been to prevent the escalation of the situation and maintain stability in the area also through bilateral meetings and dialogue with the parties. I have also reiterated that in the year 2000, both parties committed to respecting the Blue Line in its entirety, notwithstanding their respective reservations. It’s the primary responsibility of the parties to ensure the respect of the Blue Line and to prevent ground violations. At the same time UNIFIL is doing its utmost to prevent the parties to carry out actions along the Line of Withdrawal that could be perceived as provocative and exacerbate tensions.”
“Our combined efforts with the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) have been crucial to ensuring this continued calm in the south. I have also emphasized the paramount importance to utilize UNIFIL’s good offices and the liaison and coordination mechanism particularly on matters relating to the Blue Line in order to minimize the scope for any misunderstandings or apprehensions that may increase tension and lead to escalation.”
UNIFIL remains focused on its mission to fulfill the mandate under UN Security Council resolution 1701, together with the Lebanese Armed Forces, the Force Commander said.