Monday, March 28, 2016

Secretary-General’s remarks at media stakeout after meeting the Lebanese Armed Forces, UNIFIL and the International Support Group

Beirut, Lebanon, 24 March 2016
Good afternoon, everyone.

First, I would like to express my deepest condolences for the death of a Lebanese soldier today in Wadi Rayan, in the outskirts of Arsal near the Syrian border.

This bomb attack underlines the importance of international support for the Lebanese Armed Forces, to fight terrorism and to shield Lebanon from turmoil in the region.

I have just held fruitful and informative talks with Minister of Defense Samir Mokbel, Army Commander, Major General Jean Kahwaji and Major-General Luciano Portolano, Force Commander of UNIFIL together with the representatives of the International Support Group for Lebanon. 

The discussions focused on the security situation in Lebanon and the challenges the country faces, particularly as a result of the conflict in neighbouring Syria.

I expressed my deep admiration for the successful efforts by the Lebanese Armed Forces and security agencies to safeguard the country's security and stability, particularly in keeping Lebanon's borders safe and protecting the country from the threat of terrorism. 

We also discussed the strong cooperation between the LAF and UNIFIL in south Lebanon, including through the Strategic Dialogue process, and efforts that are underway to ensure the implementation of Security Council resolution 1701. 

The Strategic Dialogue remains crucial if the Lebanese Armed Forces are to take on greater responsibilities in UNIFIL's area of operations.

I assured the Minister and the LAF Commander that the UN and our partners in the international community will continue to give them our strong support. The Security Council emphasized this once again in its statement last week. 

We will also continue to advocate for greater support for the Lebanese Armed Forces, which we consider a truly national institution.  It is essential that the Lebanese Armed Forces get the technical and material resources they need to fulfil their vital responsibilities throughout the country.

Thank you.  Shukran.