CAIRO: Italian Minister of Defense Arturo Baresi will meet with his Egyptian counterpart Mohammed Sayid Tantawy in Cairo today before heading to El-Alamein and Sharm El-Sheikh.
The visit comes within a wider initiative to reinforce political ties between Italy and Egypt on military, economic and cultural issues.
Italian Embassy Press Officer Maria Michela La Roccia told The Daily Star Egypt that “this is a political visit and that the meeting with Tantawy would be a “political discussion on the major regional and bilateral issues.
The talks will also look at cooperation in military training, she said. The Lebanon issue would dominate the regional agenda under discussion, specifically the “Italian contribution to border control between Israel and Lebanon and the role of Egypt and Italy in the Middle East peace process.
After meeting Tantawy, Baresi is expected to fly to El-Alamein where he will mark a ceremony in remembrance of the World War II battle between Italian, German, Australian and British forces in 1942.
Between Oct. 23 and Nov. 2, 1942, thousands of Axis and Allied soldiers were killed in a battle historians believe was a turning point in the North Africa campaign.
After the ceremony Baresi will proceed to Sharm El-Sheikh to meet with the 79-strong Italian contingent of the MFO (multinational force and observers), which patrols the Egyptian/Israeli border.
The Italian contingent is part of the CPU (coastal patrol unit), which monitors the coastlines and participated in the rescue mission of the Egyptian liner Al-Salam Boccaccio 98 that sank in the Red Sea in February of this year.
Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi is due to visit Egypt before the end of the year.