February 6, 2013 – Rome – An AJC leadership delegation concluded a two-day visit to Rome on Wednesday.
The delegation met for 75 minutes with Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi, as well as former Foreign Minister Franco Frattini, a leading candidate to become the next NATO Secretary-General. Others with whom the group met were Member of Parliament and top advisor to former Prime Minister (and current candidate) Silvio Berlusconi Gianni Letta, Israeli Ambassador to Italy Naor Gilon, who hosted a dinner for AJC with leading dignitaries of the major political parties, and the Coordinator of the Middle East Peace Process, Marco Carnelos.
"We came to Italy to discuss a number of items high on the AJC agenda," explained AJC Executive Director David Harris. "The issues included the disappointing 'yes' vote on the recent Palestinian upgrade bid at the UN, as Italy had been widely expected to abstain, as well as Iran's nuclear program, upheaval in the Arab world, and relations with Israel. Italy has enjoyed deepening ties with Jerusalem, as well as long-standing and close links with Washington."
AJC arrived in Italy as Bulgarian authorities released a report implicating Hezbollah in a July attack in Burgas, Bulgaria that killed five Israeli tourists and a Bulgarian bus driver. In light of the findings of the Bulgarian investigation, not to mention Hezbollah's long record of terrorist activity around the world, AJC again called upon the EU to add the group to its list of terrorist organizations. The issue was discussed by the AJC delegation in Rome.
Meetings in the Italian capital followed immediately after AJC's five-country Board of Governors Institute. The trip included stops in Athens, Amman, Jerusalem, Berlin and Paris.
AJC leaders held consultations in the various cities with King Abdullah II of Jordan and his foreign minister; Prime Minister Antonis Samaras of Greece and five Cabinet members; Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres of Israel; Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle of Germany and the Diplomatic Adviser to the Chancellor, Christoph Heusgen; Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and Interior Minister Manuel Valls of France.
Lisa Palmieri-Billig serves as AJC's representative in Rome and liaison to the Holy See.