PRESIDENT REUVEN RIVLIN receives Italian Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti at the President’s Residence yesterday..
(photo credit: MARK NEYMAN / GPO)
The international community must remain in the region to prevent further escalation of tensions Italian Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti told President Reuven Rivlin at his residence on Tuesday.
The deployment of Italian troops in UNIFIL (UN Interim Force in Lebanon) and the multinational peacekeeping forces in Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon, coupled with Italy’s granting permission for the launch of US drone strikes against Libya and Islamic State from Sicilian air base plus concern over developments in Syria have combined to make Pinotti all too familiar with the turbulent situation in the region.
She said that Italy was learning how to cope with the kind of terrorism that Israelis have been experiencing for years.
Pinotti who had met the previous day with her Israeli counterpart Moshe Ya’alon, reiterated her country’s commitment to regional security.
She was happy that Italy was part of UNIFIL helping to control regional conflicts, she said, underscoring its involvement in counterterrorist activities against Islamic State.
She spoke through a translator, who at one stage was preempted by Rivlin who translated what she had said about flying over Jerusalem in a helicopter.
Pleasantly surprised, she allowed herself a sentence in English, “So you do understand Italian.”
Rivlin corrected her, saying that he had studied Latin in school, and there was enough of a similarity to enable him to follow the gist of her remarks.
Pinotti said that she had flown low enough to be able to discern the borders of Syria, Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority, and that while Israel is central to the area, how much more that centrality could be enhanced if peace prevailed.
Rivlin commended Italy for understanding that there is change in the region and that any variation can influence what happens in the rest of the world.
He praised Italy for its peace keeping efforts and its cooperative ventures with Israel in different fields and on many levels.
Israel’s relationship with Italy in a somewhat different sense goes back two millennia, he observed citing the oft repeated phrase, “Between Jerusalem and Rome.”
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