Hariri Affirms Commitment to Resolution 1701, Says Army 'Legitimate' Force to Defend Border
Prime Minister Saad Hariri during a visit to south of Lebanon on Friday affirmed commitment to UN resolution 1701 and stressed that the Lebanese army is the sole legitimate force entitled to defend the country's border.
“We thank our troops and tell them that they are, and only they, are the legitimate force in charge of defending our border,” Hariri told reporters.
“I reaffirm my government’s commitment to the UN Security Council Resolution 1701. We need to put an end to Israeli violations,” added the PM.
Hariri kicked off his tour by visiting the headquarters of UNIFIL forces in Naqoura.
He arrived in a military helicopter, accompanied by Defense Minister Yaacoub Sarraf and army commander General Joseph Aoun.
They were greeted by the UNIFIL head of mission and force commander Michael Beary and high-ranking officers of the force, and held a meeting that focused on the situation in the South and the role of UNIFIL with the Lebanese army and all security forces in reinforcing security and stability in the region.
The PM's visit comes one day after Hizbullah party organized a media tour of south Lebanon to offer insights into the defensive measures taken in the past year by Israeli forces along the southern frontier in preparation for any future conflict.
Asked about Hizbullah's move, Hariri said: “It is definitely unacceptable. That is why i am here today to affirm commitment to 1701.”
Hizbullah's tour was criticized by many political parties some dubbing it as an “insult to the State's image” and others as a “strategic mistake.”
The tour was the first since an inconclusive monthlong war with Israel in 2006. It came amid heightened tensions along the border between the old adversaries, with each side promising to inflict massive casualties on the other in any upcoming conflict.