Guido Crosetto is in Lebanon. The Italian Defence Minister travelled to Beirut for a series of institutional meetings, including with Prime Minister Najib Mikati (whom Italian PM Giorgia Meloni recently welcomed in Rome). The two emphasised the strong bond of friendship between the two countries and Italy’s commitment to regional stability and discussed the wider Mediterranean and Lebanon’s economic situation.
- Minister Crosetto’s visit was also meant for him to spend Good Friday with the Italian soldiers stationed in the country who participate in the United Nations UNIFIL mission and the bilateral MIBIL mission, led by Colonel Angelo Sacco.
- The Italian Defence Minister embodied the Italian government’s closeness – especially in these delicate hours, as tensions ripple across the Israeli-Lebanese border.
Crisis in the south. Conflicts in Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, especially within the Al-Aqsa Mosque (and coinciding with the Jewish and Arab celebration of Passover and Ramadan, respectively) deflagrated into a wider confrontation between the Israeli Defence Forces and the militant group Hamas, which controls Gaza, along with Iran-backed Hezbollah, which controls much of Southern Lebanon.
- Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu authorised and gave forward notice of targeted missile attacks in both Hamas-controlled regions, in response to a barrage of missiles shot against his country.
- PM Mikati condemned the firing of rockets from Lebanese territory, adding that national troops and UN peacekeepers – namely the UNIFIL mission – were investigating and trying to find the perpetrators.
The Italian commitment. “Lebanon is a key junction for regional stability and for the entire Mediterranean. In these difficult hours, even greater commitment is needed for peace and regional security so that the situation does not degenerate,” stressed the Italian Defence Minister. “The Lebanese Armed Forces are fundamental for stability and security,” he then tweeted, adding that Italy “will continue to provide its support in bilateral relations and within UNIFIL.”
- In the meeting with his Lebanese homologue Maurice Sleem, who expressed “his heartfelt appreciation” for the Italian Armed Forces’ “valuable contribution,” Minister Crosetto remarked that Lebanon’s history, politics and culture are also fundamental for stability in the wider Mediterranean.
- The Italian commitment to Lebanon, “a friendly country,” must involve “various sectors” beyond defence, he continued, vowing continued political, cultural and economic cooperation.