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Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan, begins visit to Middle East

The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charles Flanagan T.D., today (Monday) begins a working visit to the Middle East.

His first engagement will be in the Golan Heights where he will meet and address Irish troops serving in the UN Disengagement Observation Force (UNDOF).

Speaking at the beginning of the visit, Minister Flanagan said:

“This is my second trip to the region since taking office less than two years ago. This reflects the importance attached to the Middle East Peace Process by the Government, by the Oireachtas and by the Irish public.

“Today I am proud to meet with members of the current Irish contingent of 136 personnel based in Golan Heights. Since the first Irish deployment in 1958, Ireland has an unbroken record of service to blue-helmet peacekeeping. I am proud of the courage, commitment and professionalism that our Defence Forces, and also our Gardaí, have demonstrated from their service in the Congo in the 1960s to the Golan Heights today.

“Our troops are serving here in the Golan Heights in challenging circumstances but their presence here is making an important contribution to maintaining stability in this troubled region and they are discharging their duties with great skill and integrity here as in all corners of the world where Irish peacekeepers are deployed.

“My visit to the UNDOF Headquarters in Camp Ziouani today underscores the longstanding commitment of the Irish Government to promoting international peace and security through peacekeeping.

“Our proud peacekeeping record as a small nation is a key component of our international foreign policy and our engagement with the United Nations. Irish peacekeepers are widely respected internationally and our UN peacekeepers were singled out for particular praise by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon when he visited Ireland last year to celebrate 60 years of Ireland’s UN membership.”