Italian Defense Minister winds up Lebanon visit

Italian Minister of Defense, Roberta Pinotti, on Monday winded up her state visit in Lebanon, and held a news conference at the VIP Hall at Beirut international airport, whereby she tackled the outcome of her meetings with the top Lebanese officials.

In response to a question on Italy’s concern over a likely escalation between Hezbollah and Israel, Pinotti said highlighted the importance of the UNIFIL “in order to prevent the recurrence of similar escalation between the Lebanese and the Israelis.”

Answering a question on the future of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Pinotti said that “Italy believes that the solution must be political with the aim of ending the conflict.”

On cooperating with Lebanon on the level of fighting terrorism, the Italian Minister indicated that she held talks with Minister Yaacoub al-Sarraf over this matter. “Of course, we discussed working together to face such threats,” she said.

Regarding the Syrians’ displacement to Lebanon, Pinotti maintained that “the international community must recognize the efforts undertaken by the Lebanese government in that respect, especially that Lebanon has hosted great numbers of displaced Syrians, in addition to the Palestinian refugees who are already present in Lebanon.”

Asked about her country’s position from Hezbollah as well as from President Michel Aoun’s stance on the party’s weaponry, Pinotti renewed commitment to UN resolution 1701 regarding the removal of arms. “We are aware of this kind of escalatory rhetoric by the Lebanese officials, as well as by the Israelis. We are also aware that Hezbollah is a component of the Lebanese political scene. We, as military and at the Ministry of Defense, are merely concerned with resolution 1701 and the removal of arms.”