Beirut – Lebanese Forces (LF) leader Samir Geagea voiced on Friday his support for expanding the mission of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) to the Lebanese-Syrian border in the east and north.
He said that he “sees no problem in this issue. On the contrary, it will fall in Lebanon’s favor.”
The peacekeeping force is currently deployed in southern Lebanon. Calls for it to deploy on the Syrian border are usually aimed at preserving Lebanon’s security and curbing the smuggling of arms.
“At the end of the day, the Lebanese state will rise and it will be the sole possessor of warms,” stressed Geagea.
“This is a problem that needs to be resolved and the current situation cannot continue,” he declared.
His stances were made in wake of two Lebanese ministers’ preparation to travel to Syria to attend the Damascus International Fair, which opens on August 17. Fourteen Lebanese companies are also set to participate in the event.
The delegation includes Industry Minister Hussein al-Hajj Hassan and Agriculture Minister Ghazi Zoaiter. This would be the first time that Lebanon takes part in the fair since the eruption of the Syrian conflict in 2011.
The participation of the ministers has sparked a heated political debate in Lebanon with Geagea reiterating his rejection of their visit.
“Regarding strategic affairs, President Michel Aoun constantly seeks to maintain the middle ground. In regards to the ministers’ visit to Syria, we are waiting for him to say ‘no’,” he added.
“There are no problems between the Lebanese and Syrian people and life must go on. Vehicles still cross the Lebanese-Syrian border, but going there to meet with a group that no longer has any legitimacy is a totally different issue,” Geagea stated.
The departure of the ministers to Syria cannot take place without the approval of the government, stressed the LF chief.