A British Royal Navy warship docked at the Port of Beirut Monday for a three-day visit, after completing a seven-month deployment in the Middle East, seizing thousands of kilograms of narcotics.
While in Lebanon, the HMS Dragon, a Type 45 destroyer, will host training with the Lebanese Navy, give media tours and demonstrate its capabilities, according to a statement from the British Embassy shared by the state-run National News Agency.
The statement described the visit as “a symbol of the strong friendship and partnership between the U.K. and Lebanon.”
British Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson said the visit underlined his country’s “ongoing commitment to a strong and stable Lebanon, a longstanding and trusted partner. The U.K. has demonstrated this by investing in Lebanon’s Land Border Regiments, while British military teams routinely train the Lebanese Armed Forces, contributing to their great successes, including expelling Daesh [ISIS] in 2017."
British Ambassador to Lebanon Chris Rampling led a tour of the ship, and spoke of the U.K.’s support for Lebanon at a news conference afterward. “We spent over $200 million last year and we expect to spend more this year. Last year’s expenses included education, services and humanitarian work,” the NNA reported.
In response to a question from reporters, Rampling denied that there was any connection between the destroyer’s visit and the U.K.’s decision in February to designate the entirety of Hezbollah as a terrorist group.
During its seven-month deployment in the region, HMS Dragon seized over 18,000 kilograms of narcotics “with a street value of hundreds of million U.S. dollars,” the embassy statement said. “The HMS Dragon has become the most successful Royal Naval vessel to conduct counter-narcotics operations, achieving the largest total number of seizures and total weight of drugs," it added.
Carter Quinn, the ship’s commander, said the HMS Dragon had been docked at Oman’s Salalah before reaching Beirut and will have a stop in Spain on its way back to the U.K.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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