Italy PM Conte to visit Lebanon ‘in coming days’

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte attends a news conference after a European Union leaders summit in Brussels, Belgium, December 14, 2018. (Reuters)
Short Url
Updated 24 August 2020

Italy PM Conte to visit Lebanon ‘in coming days’

  • Italian Navy ship San Giusto has reached Beirut carrying materials to build a field hospital that will be equipped to treat COVID-19 cases
  • Lebanese President Michel Aoun asked Italy to help Lebanon ‘by facilitating the return of Syrian refugees to their country’

ROME: Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte will visit Lebanon “in the coming days” as a “tangible sign of the brotherhood between the two countries,” Italian Defense Minister Lorenzo Guerini said on Monday after meeting with Lebanese President Michel Aoun in Beirut.

Guerini is the first member of Italy’s government to visit Lebanon since the devastating explosion of ammonium nitrate in a port warehouse on Aug. 4, when more than 180 people were killed and at least 6,000 were injured.

He expressed the Italian government’s condolences to the families of the victims of the explosion, and wished the wounded a speedy recovery. Guerini said Italy had offered “tangible aid” to the Lebanese people immediately after the blast.

He assured “the support of the Italian government for any Lebanese need or request to help with the reconstruction effort.”

He said: “Our countries are so close. They always have been close. In the past 38 years, Italian military forces have never ceased to be present in Lebanon, putting their professionalism at the service of stability and of strengthening security in the country, constantly guaranteeing the necessary assistance to the Lebanese authorities.”

He added: “Now we are stepping up our engagement with the Emergenza Cedri (Cedar Emergency) mission, a further and concrete sign of the strong and fraternal closeness of Italy to the Lebanese population which is living such a difficult time, also because of the surge of COVID-19 cases in the country.”

Guerini said the Italian Navy ship San Giusto had just reached Beirut carrying materials to build a field hospital that will be equipped to treat COVID-19 cases. It will be built on the campus of Al-Hadath University.

According to a press statement issued by the presidency, Aoun told Guerini about the “enormous difficulties” Lebanon is facing.

Aoun asked Italy to help Lebanon also “by facilitating the return of Syrian refugees to their country.”

He thanked Italy for its participation in the UN Interim Force in Lebanon, and for the aid provided through the humanitarian operation Emergenza Cedri.

Italian Navy ship Etna reached Beirut on Monday, carrying more humanitarian aid offered by the navy and the Francesca Rava NPH Italia Onlus Foundation.

In Beirut, Guerini also met Defense Minister Zeina Akar and Gen. Joseph Aoun, commander of the Lebanese Armed Forces. Guerini then visited San Giusto and the site of the Italian field hospital in Al-Hadath University.


Lebanon sets out its claim in maritime border talks

Updated 29 October 2020

Lebanon sets out its claim in maritime border talks

  • A military source told Arab News: “The Lebanese side considers that Israel, through the border line it drew for itself, is eating into huge areas of Lebanese economic waters.”

BEIRUT: Lebanese negotiators laid out their claim to maritime territory on Wednesday as they began a second round of talks with Israel over their disputed sea border.
The contested zone in the Mediterranean is an estimated 860 square kilometers known as Block 9, which is rich in oil and gas. Future negotiations will also tackle the countries’ land border.
Wednesday’s meeting took place at the headquarters of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) amid tight security. An assistant of the UN special coordinator for Lebanon chaired the session, and the US Ambassador to Algeria, John Desrocher, was the mediator.
A military source told Arab News: “The Lebanese side considers that Israel, through the border line it drew for itself, is eating into huge areas of Lebanese economic waters.”
The Lebanese delegation produced maps and documents to support their claim to the disputed waters.
In indirect talks between Lebanon and Israel in 2012, US diplomat Frederick Hoff proposed “a middle line for the maritime borders, whereby Lebanon would get 58 percent of the disputed area and Israel would be given the remaining 42 percent, which translates to 500 square kilometers for Lebanon and 300 square kilometers for Israel.”
On the eve of Wednesday’s meeting, Lebanese and Israeli officials met to discuss a framework to resolve the conflict through the implementation of UN Resolution 1701.
UNIFIL Commander Maj. Gen. Stefano Del Col praised the “constructive role that both parties played in calming tensions along the Blue Line” and stressed the necessity of “taking proactive measures and making a change in the prevailing dynamics regarding tension and escalation.”