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AOUN RECEIVES OFFICIAL INVITATION TO VISIT ITALY, PROMOTES DEVELOPMENT OF TIES

Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Angelino Alfano, on Thursday handed President of the Republic, General Michel Aoun, an official invitation from his Italian counterpart, Sergio Mattarella, to visit Rome, Italy.

Alfano and an accompanying delegation visited Aoun at Baabda Palace, along with Italian Ambassador to Lebanon, Massimo Marotti.

In his invitation letter, the Italian President hailed the 70-year-old diplomatic relations between Lebanon and Italy, deeming them a main contributor to boosting Lebanese-Italian cooperation ties.

"Lebanon pursues its role in the heart of a tough patch in the Middle East region. Italy, in turn, has been endeavoring to preserve a state of balance in said region by means of playing a pioneering role within UNIFIL that has been deployed in the South of Lebanon for years," Mattarella said in his letter.

The Italian president made clear that his official invitation to Aoun aimed to celebrate 70 years of Italian-Lebanese diplomatic ties, not to mention an opportunity to discuss issues of mutual interest.

For his part, President Aoun promised to answer his counterpart's invitation to Rome by setting a date through diplomatic channels.

Aoun went on to applaud Italy's relentless support to Lebanon at all levels. He also valued Italy's participation in UNIFIL, and its active participation in developmental and humanitarian projects.

On the other hand, Aoun briefed his visiting delegation on the regional and international challenges that the world endures in the face of rampaging terrorism. He also mentioned the Israeli continuous danger at the absence of a solution to the Middle East crisis.

The President also shared with his visitors the heavy burden that Lebanon suffers as a result of the massive wave of Syrian influx into Lebanon. He highlighted the role of the international community providing more support to Lebanon.

In turn, the Italian Minister confirmed Italy's continuous support to Lebanon, especially to the armed forces, through organized training programs, in addition to developmental projects.

"Italy is Lebanon's first economic and trade partner among the countries of Europe. It wishes to boost and expand this partnership as much as possible," Alfano added, relaying his country's trust in President Aoun's leadership in the face of looming challenges.

Source: National News Agency