The Force Commander of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) today held an open meeting with local authorities from the towns and villages in the eastern sector of the mission’s area of operations as part of efforts to strengthen ties with communities. “UNIFIL’s role is to maintain peace and stability in the south and to improve the situation of the civilian population and protect them if there is an imminent threat of violence coming from any party,” Major-General Claudio Graziano told participants. “For those reasons, I consider the relationship between UNIFIL and the communities in the area of operation a high priority. It is essential that these relations are characterized by trust, confidence and mutual respect. “He added that the recent terrorist attack which killed six UNIFIL peacekeepers would not deter them from carrying out their mission. “At this difficult moment I want to stress that all UNIFIL troops remain committed more then ever to its mission and resolve to implement the tasks mandated by the Security Council.” Today’s was the latest in a series of meetings Major-General Graziano has held with representatives from local authorities throughout southern Lebanon. Among those present were the Governor of Nabatiyeh, as well as the mayors and mukhtars of local towns and villages. In addition, members of parliament with constituencies in the areas, representatives of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and UNIFIL peacekeeping contingents deployed in the area also attended. At the start of the meeting, all present observed a minute of silence in memory of the six fallen peacekeepers from UNIFIL’s Spanish contingent who were killed in the terrorist attack on 24 June. 28 June 2007The Force Commander of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) today held an open meeting with local authorities from the towns and villages in the eastern sector of the mission’s area of operations as part of efforts to strengthen ties with communities.