Beirut – Lebanese Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil said on Thursday that Lebanon has reached a breaking point due to the economic, living and security burdens imposed by the heavy inflow of Syrian refugees.
Bassil met on Thursday with his Italian counterpart Angelino Alfano, who conducted a 24-hour visit to Beirut.
The Lebanese minister thanked Italy for its contribution to the UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon, adding: “We hail UNIFIL’s role in maintaining Lebanon’s stability despite constant Israeli violations.”
Alfano vowed that his country would continue to support Lebanon’s economy and army.
In a joint press conference following the meeting, the Italian foreign minister described Lebanon as a symbol of democracy and pluralism in the Middle East, adding that the country “plays a key role in maintaining the region’s stability”.
The visiting minister also praised Lebanon’s efforts in hosting a large number of Syrian refugees on its territories.
“Helping Lebanon at this very difficult time means not only helping its stability but also regional stability,” he stated.
According to the United Nations Higher Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), Lebanon hosts more than 1.1 million Syrian refugees.
On trade ties, Bassil encouraged Italian companies to invest in Lebanon’s oil and gas sector. He also hoped that Italy would continue to build strong economic relations with Lebanon.
Earlier on Thursday, Alfano told Italian UN peacekeeping troops: “This is a place that makes Italy proud, thanks to your commitment’”.
In his speech at the UNIFIL base in Shamaa in south Lebanon, Alfano underlined the importance of economic and political relations between the two countries.