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Senior UN military official meets top politicians in Lebanon

The top United Nations military official in Lebanon held talks with senior politicians in the country today, underscoring the need for continued close coordination between the world body’s peacekeeping mission and the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF).

Major General Alberto Asarta Cuevas, the Force Commander of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), met in separate meetings today in the capital, Beirut, with Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Parliament speaker Nabih Berri.

The talks centred on the security situation in south Lebanon and the implementation of Security Council resolution 1701, which ended the conflict between Israel and the Lebanese group Hizbollah and calls for Israel to withdraw its forces from the northern part of the village of Ghajar.

The meetings also focused on the deadly skirmish earlier this month, which reportedly claimed at least four lives, along the so-called Blue Line, which separates Israel and Lebanon.

The incident was triggered by Israel’s announcement of its intention to cut down a tree in the proximity of the Blue Line. UNIFIL later confirmed that the tree was located south of the line on the Israeli side.

“This tragic incident must remain isolated,” Major-General Asarta stressed.

“I have received assurances from all the parties that they want to defuse the tension and continue working closely with UNIFIL to restore and maintain calm in the area,” he added. “No one is interested in an escalation.”

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