Italy's Defense Minister Discusses with Lebanese Officials Army Assistance

Italian Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti was on Tuesday holding talks with Lebanese officials on the support to the Lebanese army and ways to improve its capabilities.

“This is my first visit abroad since my appointment as defense minister,” the state-run National News Agency quoted her as saying.

She said her visit had the objective to support the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon and hear from Lebanese leaders their expectations on the assistance to the army.

Following talks with Premier Tammam Salam, Pinotti said an international conference that will be held in Italy in April to back the Lebanese military “is very important particularly that it guarantees Lebanon's stability.”

She said Italy backs U.N. peacekeepers based south of the Litani river in addition to supporting humanitarian assistance to the Syrian refugees in Lebanon in accordance with the expectations of the Lebanese government.

“Italy holds onto the commitments it has made towards Lebanon,” the visiting minister stated.

Pinotti, who arrived in Beirut on Monday, also held talks with President Michel Suleiman.

She is expected to meet with her Lebanese counterpart Samir Moqbel and Army chief Gen. Jean Qahwaji.

She will also visit UNIFIL's Italian contingent and other peacekeepers “to congratulate them on their mission” in southern Lebanon.



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