Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil on Thursday held talks with Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Angelino Alfano, over latest developments in the region, and the bilateral ties between Lebanon and Italy.

Speaking at a joint press conference at Villa Boustros, Minister Bassil thanked Italy for its considerable role within UNIFIL, lauding the positive contribution of UNIFIL in maintaining Lebanon's stability despite the recurrent Israeli violations of Lebanese sovereignty.

Bassil said he saw eye to eye with the Italian Minister that a comprehensive political solution is the sole viable one for the Syrian crisis, which should also include the safe return of the displaced people to their homeland.

"Lebanon has reached the point of collapse in terms of its ability to shoulder alone the socio-economic, demographic, political and security impact as a result the huge influx of Syrian refugees into Lebanese territories," Bassil sounded the alarm.

Turing to bilateral ties, Bassil noted that they agreed on the need to further bolster trade and economic relations notably that Italy is the largest European trading partner with Lebanon.

Bassil encouraged Italian companies to be engaged and participate in the promising oil and gaz sector of Lebanon, in terms of expertise in this regard.

Minister Alfano, for his part, brought to attention that Italy and Lebanon celebrate this year the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations, saying he has handed the President of the Republic Michel Aoun an invitation from Italian President to visit Rome soon, as an echo of the deeply entrenched ties between the two countries.

Alfano also pointed out that "Italy is present in Lebanon through its peacekeepers since 1978 within UNIFIL," saying Italy is proud of its contribution to the training of Lebanese soldiers.

Alfano lauded Lebanon as a unique model of cultural diversity and democratic pluralism in the Middle East, expressing his belief that Lebanon has an important role to play in the stability of the region.

Alfano underlined Italy's continual assistance to Lebanon, saying that Italy cooperates and provides aid to Lebanon to preserve it and maintain its stability.

The Italian Minister also heaped praises on Lebanon's enormous efforts in hosting the huge number of Syrian refugees.

NNA