ROME – Italian Premier Romano Prodi was set to meet Thursday with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, a day after Italy hosted an international conference to discuss the fighting in Lebanon.
Prodi and Abbas were expected to discuss the Middle East crisis and the situation in the Palestinian territories, after delegates from the United States, the United Nations, Europe and Russia, meeting Wednesday in Rome, reiterated their commitment to a region-wide solution to the conflict.
Israel launched an offensive in Gaza after Hamas-linked militants tunneled under the border on June 25 and attacked an Israeli army post at a Gaza crossing, killing two soldiers and capturing a third. Israeli ground forces have entered and exited several parts of Gaza, searching for militants and weapons, as artillery pounds the area and aircraft carry out attacks.
Italy has been in contact with Abbas over the past weeks to try to put pressure on the Hamas militant group to release a kidnapped Israeli soldier, Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema has said.