BEIRUT: United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon commander Maj. Gen. Paolo Serra visited Lebanese top officials Tuesday to bid farewell and introduce his successor, according to a UNIFIL statement.
Two days prior to handing over the peacekeeping command, Serra visited Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, Prime Minister Tammam Salam, Lebanese Army commander Gen. Jean Kahwagi and the director general of General Security, Maj. Gen Abbas Ibrahim.
Accompanied by his Italian successor Maj. Gen. Luciano Portolano, who will take up the position of UNIFIL head of mission and force commander Thursday, Serra officially bid farewell to Lebanese authorities.
Serra said that in addition to thanking the officials for their support to him “personally” and “to our mission for peace in south Lebanon,” he discussed with them the latest developments on the border with Israel.
“We ... discussed out efforts together with the Lebanese Armed Forces to maintain calm along the Blue Line,” he said.
He also thanked the people of south Lebanon for their hospitality toward UNIFIL.
“Our respect for the communities that are hosting us, their understanding and acceptance of UNIFIL’s role amidst them, are paramount for the implementation of our mandate,” he said. “Their support and appreciation for the work carried out by the mission has been extremely valuable.”
Serra expressed confidence that his successor would handle the responsibility well.
“Maj. Gen. Portolano will continue to build on the strong foundations for peace in the south and all the good work that has been done so far in strategic partnership with LAF.”