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Italy has no intention to reduce UNIFIL contingent in Lebanon: PM


09:07, December 06, 2012

ROME, Dec. 5 (Xinhua) -- Italy's Prime Minister Mario Monti said on Wednesday that his country has no intention to reduce participating peacekeepers in the UN Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL) after meeting his Lebanese counterpart Najib Mikati in Rome.

Monti told a joint press conference that UNIFIL is a "key instrument" for the maintenance of international peace and security in the region, of which Lebanon remains "a fundamental pivot of stability."

"We are not considering further reductions of our contingent because we believe that UNIFIL is more necessary than ever given the current situation in the area," the Italian premier said.

For his part, Mikati assured that Lebanon would fulfill international obligations, and highlighted the importance of boosting economic, investment and trade relations between the two countries.

He stressed that Italy is Lebanon's first commercial partner in Europe, and the two countries aim "to further enhance bilateral relations" through new agreements including business exchange and training service.

Italy has the most numerous European contingent in Lebanon. It currently counts 1,150 military personnel serving in UNIFIL, and also provides humanitarian assistance for refugees in the country.

Last January, Major General Paolo Serra of Italy was appointed as the new head of the UN mission, which currently has over 12,000 military personnel from more than 35 countries.

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