Italian foreign minister travels to Middle East

Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema traveled to the Middle East on Wednesday on a diplomatic mission that includes talks with senior Lebanese and Palestinian officials. D'Alema left Wednesday for Lebanon, where he is scheduled to meet with embattled Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, an ally of Hizbullah that has been staging massive demonstrations against the government. D'Alema will also pay a visit to Italian troops in the country - a 2,500-strong contingent that is the largest contribution to the UN peacekeeping force. On Thursday, D'Alema travels to the Palestinian territories to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who has called for early elections as a way of ending the political crisis in the Palestinian areas.