National Defense Minister Elias Bou Saab received on Tuesday UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Affairs, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, within the framework of his tour on Lebanese officials, accompanied by UNIFIL Force Commander Major General Stefano Del Col, United Nations Coordinator in Lebanon, Juan Kubis, and Director of the UN Middle East Division, Susan Rose.
Bou Saab began the meeting by offering condolences to Lacroix following the death of UN mission members who were on board the Ethiopian Airlines plane that crashed on Sunday. The two sides also discussed the general situation in Lebanon and the region, underlining the performance of the UNIFIL forces contributing to the maintenance of peace, security and stability in southern Lebanon. They also stressed the role of the Minister of Defense in cooperating with the UNIFIL mission.
Tackling the Israeli aggressions, Bou Saab wondered “why the international community has not given due importance to the hundreds of violations taking place every month, while a massive media campaign is waged against any alleged Lebanon violation against Israel.”
Lacroix, in turn, said he discussed with his host “the mechanism to strengthen the presence of the Lebanese army in the south. Empowering the Lebanese navy was also emphasized for the bid of gradually reducing the tasks of the UN Maritime Task Force.”
“We also talked about how we can continue to cooperate on a daily basis to respond quickly and effectively to any emergency, and I would like to thank His Excellency for the successful and productive meeting and I hope that we will continue to work together in the next phase,” he said.
The Defense Minister then welcomed the German Ambassador to Lebanon, George Berglin, who congratulated him on assuming the defense portfolio, stressing his country’s continued support for Lebanon and the Lebanese Army.
The two sides discussed the issue of the displaced. Bou Saab explained the difference between the safe and dignified return and the voluntary return of the displaced Syrians hosted by Lebanon, and the reason for the reservations on the term “voluntary return.”
He pointed out that the country could no longer “shoulder this burden or wait for a final political settlement in Syria to resolve this crisis,” stressing that Lebanon wants a safe and dignified repatriation to the displaced.
The German ambassador expressed his understanding of the Lebanese positions and demands, stressing the position of his country regarding the separation of the return of displaced persons from a political solution to the Syrian crisis.
Source: National News Agency