Italy reconfirmed a promise of 120 million euro in aid last week as donor countries met in Paris to help Lebanon recover from last year’s war between Israel and Hezbollah guerrillas. Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D’Alema, defining the donors’ conference a political and economic ‘boost’ for Beirut, said Italy would also offer to renegotiate commercial debt repayments. French President Jacques Chirac, presiding over the work of the Paris conference, publicly thanked Italy for its fresh display of ‘generosity’, noting that Rome had already sustained heavy expenses for Lebanon.
Italy is currently the biggest contributor of troops to UN peacekeeping operations in Lebanon, supplying 2,500 of the 11,500 soldiers in the UNIFIL force. The force will come under Italian command on February 17.