(MENAFN - Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)) The UN Security Council's decision to extend for one year the mandate of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was welcomed by UNIFIL Commander Maj Gen Paolo Serra.
The decision was taken upon the request of Lebanon and was unanimously adopted earlier on Thursday, extending without any changes the UNIFIL mandate until August 31, 2013.
"The Security Council underlined UNIFILs cooperation with the Lebanese army, its positive achievements, and the imperative to further expand this partnership on the ground as well as through our ongoing strategic dialogue with the Lebanese armed forces," said the commander.
"The Security Council has expressed its full support for the strategic priorities and recommendations identified by the recent Strategic Review of UNIFIL. We are pursuing the identified objectives through a comprehensive approach to the implementation of resolution 1701 that would further involve the Lebanese government in the South," he added.
"Our focus remains on facilitating the gradual assumption by the Lebanese army of effective and sustainable security control of the UNIFIL area of operations and Lebanese territorial waters, as a key element in supporting moves towards a permanent ceasefire.
"UNIFILs freedom of movement and the security and safety of our personnel is integral to the effective execution of our tasks. I count on our strong relations with the people of southern Lebanon and with the Lebanese army in furthering our operations in a cooperative spirit with full transparency and mutual appreciation of our common objective of peace and security in southern Lebanon," he concluded.
UNIFIL is operating in Lebanon under Security resolution 1701 which put an end to 34 days of Israeli aggression on Lebanon during the summer of 2006.
The peacekeeping force holds around 12,000 soldiers, commanded by Maj Gen Paolo Serra of Italy, while around 15,000 Lebanese soldiers are deployed south of the country to ensure safety and security there.