Lebanon's caretaker Defense Minister Maurice Slim on Friday warned of the "direct threat" posed by tension on the border between Lebanon and Israel, saying the Lebanese Army "stands ready to face any aggression."
Slim's statement, published on the ministry's website after a meeting with Italian Defense Minister Guido Crosetto, comes after Israeli airstrikes in southern Lebanon on Thursday night following rocket fire from the region into Israeli territory.
"This development represents a direct threat to the security and stability of the South," the minister said.
He added that "the army has been and will remain the guarantor of the highest possible cooperation with UNIFIL (the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon) and will take the necessary measures to restore security [and] protect stability and calm in the South. It stands ready to deal with any aggression."
Slim also assured that Lebanon "respects UN Security Council Resolution 1701," adopted in 2006 to end a war between Israel and Iran-backed Hezbollah.
The two ministers also discussed "cooperation between the two countries, especially in the military field," as well as "the escalation in South Lebanon."
Slim paid tribute to Italian participation in UNIFIL and to the coordination between the international force and army units in southern Lebanon.
He also "thanked Italy for its continuous support to the army, especially through humanitarian and military aid."
For his part, Crosetto said that Italy "is ready to cooperate and help the Lebanese army and security services."