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Lebanon key to regional stability says Italy's Gentiloni

16 febbraio 2016 | 14.06
LETTURA: 1 minuti

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Lebanon plays a vital role in the stability of the Middle East and urgently needs to break its 20-month-long political deadlock and elect a new president, Italian foreign minister Paolo Gentiloni said on Tuesday.

"Lebanon is a Country of utmost importance in the region; the current situation makes it a topmost priority to overcome the country's institutional stalemate," Gentiloni said in a statement.

Italy is eager to help efforts by Lebanon's political parties to break the ongoing stalemate and reach an agreement, Gentiloni told Lebanon's foreign minister Gebran Bassil at a meeting in Rome on Tuesday.

Gentiloni and Bassil's talks also focused on the strain place on Lebanon by hosting 1.5 million Syrian refugees - a quarter of its population - the statement said.

Gentiloni voiced hope that international donors would "soon" honour their pledges [made at a conference in London on 4 February to give 11 billion dollars to aid Syrians by 2020], the statement continued.

Gentiloni and Bassil also discussed the 400 million dollars of aid to Lebanon Italy has committed over the next three years to help it handle the influx of refugees, the statement added.

Bassil expressed "great appreciation" for the leadership role being played by Italy in peacekeeping in Lebanon, where Italian major-general Luciano Portolanoh heads the United Nations' UNIFIL peacekeeping force, the statement concluded.

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