UNIFIL Commander meets with religious leaders

FEBRUARY 5, 2015 (REFERRING TO THE NATIONAL NEWS AGENCY – LEBANON) In a press release by UNIFIL on Thursday, it said: “UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force Commander Major-General Luciano Portolano today held separate meetings with Sheikh Hasan Abdallah, Tyre and Jabal Amel Shiite Mufti, Bishop Shukrallah Nabil Hajj, Tyre Maronite Archbishop, Bishop Michael Abras, Tyre Greek Catholics Archbishop, and Sheikh Medraar El Habbal, Tyre Sunni Mufti, in their offices in the city of Tyre.”

Release added: “The discussions focused on the current situation in UNIFIL’s area of operations after stability has been restored following the recent incidents, and related common concerns within the framework of UN Security Council resolution 1701 (2006).”

Major-General Portolano said: “I was encouraged to hear the religious leaders’ strong acknowledgement of the important role played by UNIFIL, including during the recent incidents, by our presence on the ground together with the Lebanese Armed Forces and our liaison and coordination arrangements that have been critical in defusing tensions and preventing any misunderstandings, so that stability is maintained along the Blue Line and a secure environment is ensured for the people of south Lebanon.”

The Major General added: “I want to express my deepest gratitude for their sincere and relentless support. The work carried out by all the religious leaders in exerting calm by providing spiritual guidance through their positive messages to the population, has been of paramount importance. Their heartfelt desire for peace and stability is a common goal that embraces all of us, UNIFIL, the Lebanese Army and the Lebanese people in general.”

He said: “I also conveyed the UN Secretary-General’s message of concern over the serious deterioration of the security situation, to refrain from any action that could undermine the stability of the area and to act responsibly to prevent any escalation in an already tense regional environment.”

“UNIFIL is proud to work hand-in-hand with such inspiring leaders and I assured them that our peacekeepers, military and civilian, will continue working with full respect for the religious beliefs, traditions and cultural sensitivities of the host population. We attach great importance to our relationship with the people of the south; this symbiotic co-existence is key to the success of the Mission,” General Portolano concluded.

SOURCE: NATIONAL NEWS AGENCY- LEBANON