The Minister with Responsibility for Defence, Mr. Paul Kehoe, T.D., today met with visiting Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil. Minister Bassil is on a two day official visit to Ireland.
The Lebanese Foreign Minister was warmly welcomed by Minister Kehoe.
Following a visit to Leinster House, Minister Bassil laid a wreath at the National Memorial in Merrion Square in honour of those members of the Defence Forces who have given their lives in the service of the State. This was followed by a private meeting with Minister Kehoe. Minister Bassil later paid a courtesy call on President Michael D. Higgins at Áras an Uachtaráin.
Minister Kehoe commented “Ireland has strong political and historical ties to Lebanon, arising from our long-standing involvement in UNIFIL since the establishment of the mission over 40 years ago. We also share common values and histories.”
During their meeting, Foreign Minister Bassil expressed his deep appreciation for Ireland’s commitment to UN peacekeeping operations.
"Ireland has long been one of the significant contributors to UNIFIL in Lebanon and Lebanon salutes Irish peacekeepers sacrifices for the cause of peace. Irish presence is still very much needed in the region, it contributes to regional security and stability. It has also created bonds between our two people which had already existed, but had been only strengthened and grown deeper.”
Minister Kehoe went on to say that he was “greatly impressed by the briefing received from the Lebanese Minister. We had a very useful discussion on many issues of mutual interest and concern to our countries, including trade, bilateral relations and regional affairs. The Irish Government remains strongly committed to the maintenance of peace and security in southern Lebanon.”
Ireland is proud of the role played by our peacekeepers in ensuring stability and security in southern Lebanon” he said.
The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) represents Ireland's largest overseas deployment.