Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni inaugurated the lower floor of Beirut's National Museum and met with top officials during an official one-day visit to Lebanon.
At the opening ceremony of museum’s newly-renovated basement, Lebanese Prime Minister Tammam Salam praised Italy saying that this effort has confirmed the European country’s “deep friendship” by shedding light on some of the country’s history.
Italy has been a major contributor to help Lebanon preserve its cultural heritage through various projects over the years.
Gentiloni first met with Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri at his Ain al-Tineh residence in Beirut. The two discussed the latest political developments in Lebanon as well as Italy’s role in United Nations peacekeeping forces in the south.
Gentiloni also held a news conference with his Lebanese counterpart Gebran Bassil, who reiterated calls for the return of Syrian refugees to their country.
"We need a political solution to the [Syrian crisis], because we have been hosting refugees for five years despite our scarcity in resources," Bassil said.
Italy’s top diplomat praised Lebanon’s ability to withstand and endure the huge influx of Syrians, saying that he also hopes to see a political solution to the Syrian crisis.
“We need to confront a big challenge and that is protecting Lebanon's strength and fortitude, which has surprised the world by hosting a large number of Syrian refugees,” Gentiloni said.
During the joint conference, Bassil also thanked Italy and its foreign minister for taking part in the opening of the museum’s lower floor.
“We thank him for all that his country has done for us,” he said.
The Daily Star
Oct. 07, 2016