Israeli FM to meet with Italian FM, PM today

August 24, 2006 10:48

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni meets Thursday with her Italian counterpart Massimo D'Alema and Premier Romano Prodi as Italy appears on the verge of taking on a major role in an expanded UN peacekeeping mission in southern Lebanon. Livni will meet with D'Alema in Rome and later travel to the Tuscan town of Grosseto to meet with Prodi, who is vacationing at the nearby seaside resort of Castiglione della Pescaia. The talks are expected to focus on the shaping of the peacekeeping mission, as most EU nations remain wary of making firm commitments until the mandate for the new force is clarified, fearing that their troops could be dragged into a conflict with the Hizbullah militants based in south Lebanon or with Israel if the current cease-fire between them collapses. D'Alema said earlier this week that Hizbullah must lay down its arms but that Israel must also respect the cease-fire if Italy is to send troops to Lebanon.

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