Italian FM pledges border police for Gaza Strip
Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said on Monday that Italy would deploy paramilitary police on the border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip after Israel and Gaza's ruling Hamas reached a cease-fire at the weekend, Xinhua reported.
Frattini pledged that Italy would give a very "concrete contribution" to efforts by the international community in Gaza, Italian News Agency ADNKRONOS said.
He also said Italy would take part in a European Union- sponsored "naval patrol" that was being put together by European and non-European countries in a bid to stop arms smuggling into the coastal territory.
He made the remarks during a program on Radiocity, broadcast by Italian state RadioUno, ahead of his departure to the Middle East on Monday.
Frattini is expected to deliver an Italian aid convoy for war- ravaged Gaza, and visit Israel, Egypt and the West Bank during his visit. He is expected to go to Lebanon and Syria on a separate trip.
Frattini also blamed Syria for failing to have encouraged the Damascus-based Hamas movement to seek peace.
He said Hamas' leaders in Syria had adopted a "hard-line stance " in contrast with the Hamas leadership in Gaza, which probably would have sought an earlier truce.
Frattini said that had occurred because Hamas leaders were safer in Damascus, than their colleagues in Gaza, but he also said the Syrian government could have done more.
"Syria has not carried out the role that we wished or to be more precise, the promotion of peace," he said.
"In the next few days, I will have contact with Syria, because Syria has very good relations with Italy," Frattini said.