BEIRUT: Italy’s Foreign Minister Emma Bonino held talks Wednesday with President Michel Sleiman over international funds to support Lebanon and its armed forces.
Bonino, who arrived in Beirut Tuesday night, discussed with Sleiman decisions made during last year’s International Support Group for Lebanon, which is aimed at helping the country’s economy and Army cope with the repercussions of the Syrian crisis.
The two also discussed Italy’s readiness to convene a conference in Rome later this year to support the Lebanese military.
They discussed the presence of Italian peacekeepers in the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon in the south as well as the situation in the country and the wider region.
Later in the day, Bonino, accompanied by the Italian ambassador Guiseppe Morabito, checked on Italy’s contingent in UNIFIL.
Bonino was received by Commander of UNIFIL Maj. Gen. Paolo Serra and other senior officers from the international force at the main headquarters in the southern coastal city of Naqoura.
Bonino visited a UNIFIL post at the border along with the Italian contingent. She then went to the headquarters of UNIFIL’s western sector in the village of Shamaa, where she held a meeting with the area’s commander, Gen. Mauricio Rico.
Following the meeting, Rico addressed the Italian peacekeepers by saying: “You are deployed here not only to secure peace for Lebanon, but also for the world,” stressing that peacekeeping was an essential priority for her government.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on February 06, 2014, on page 3.