Lebanon's Najib Mikati mistakes aide to Giorgia Meloni for Italian PM

Delegation from Rome is in Beirut as conflict rages in south Lebanon

Lebanese PM Najib Mikati mistakes adviser to Giorgia Meloni for the Italian PM

Lebanese PM Najib Mikati mistakes adviser to Giorgia Meloni for the Italian PM
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Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati mistook an aide to Giorgia Meloni for the Italian Prime Minister herself when a delegation from Rome arrived in Beirut on Wednesday.

Mr Mikati was waiting on the tarmac at Beirut airport for the Italian leader to descend the stairs from her plane.

As one of Ms Meloni's delegation descended ahead of her, Mr Mikati greeted her with a kiss on each cheek, apparently thinking she was the Italian Prime Minister.

He was quickly informed that he had instead greeted Ms Meloni's personal assistant Patrizia Scurti, who looks somewhat similar to her.

The Italian Prime Minister exited the plane soon after, and was greeted with a handshake and a kiss on each cheek by Mr Mikati.

Ms Meloni is in Beirut amid the continuing cross-border conflict on Lebanon's southern border between Israeli forces and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.

At a meeting with Mr Mikati, the Italian Prime Minister gave a "clear message regarding the need to avoid any risk of escalation along the border with Israel", her office said. She also visited the Italian detachment at Unifil, the UN peacekeeping mission in south Lebanon.

Mr Mikati reiterated his condemnation of an Israeli strike on south Lebanon on Wednesday which killed seven paramedics.

The expanding hostilities in south Lebanon have raised fears of an all-out conflict between Israel and Hezbollah, as long as the war in Gaza continues.

Hezbollah says it is launching attacks on Israel in support of its embattled ally Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

This month US envoy Amos Hochstein was in Beirut in a bid to broker a ceasefire on the Lebanon-Israel border and an agreement on contested border points.

Among the Israeli demands are that Hezbollah withdraw its fighters north of the Litani River, a demand the Iran-backed group has rejected.

Hezbollah has said it will not stop fighting until there is a ceasefire in Gaza between Hamas and Israel.

Updated: March 28, 2024, 3:23 PM