By Nihal Zaroug.
Tripoli, July 6 2013:
Prime Minister Ali Zeidan, Finance Minister Abdulkarim Al-Kilani and Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohamed Abdel Aziz, . . .[restrict]were in the Italian capital of Rome on Wednesday and Thursday, where they met with several Italian officials including Premier Enrico Letta, Minister of Defense Mario Maura, President Giorgio Napolitano, and President of the Italian Senate Pietro Grasso.
After returning from the G8 Summit in Northern Ireland, Zeidan had announced that a trip to Italy would be organised to discuss bilateral relations.
During the state visit, the activation of agreements and several other issues were discussed, with a focus on helping Libya with its internal security and border control. The latter is a major issue for not only Libya but Europe in general, as migrants looking to exit Africa, have ended up on the shores of Malta and Italy.
In particular, the close proximity of the 20-square kilometre Italian island of Lampedusa, to both Libya and Tunisia, has made it bear the majority of “boat people” set to reach Southern Europe. According to Pietro Bartolo, the chief medical examiner for Lampedusa, 500 immigrants arrived in the past week, aided by favourable weather conditions at sea.
Zeidan made it clear that Libya alone could not handle the problem of migrant influx and needed help from European states. Zeidan welcomed a partnership with Italy to find viable solutions. He said at a joint press conference held on Thursday, that equipment and training would be made available to stop illegal migration, particular from the porous southern borders. Furthermore, 5,000 Libya troops would undergo training in Italy within the coming weeks, said Zeidan, as part of the cooperation between the two nations.
For his part Letta, affirmed Italy’s commitment to collaborating with Libya, stating ‘‘we can trust one another and do an excellent job together and that is exactly what we will do”. However, as quoted by ANSAmed, Letta cautioned that “the end of all kinds of violence, especially against civilians, is the precondition for our cooperation work to develop and give positive results”. Despite, this prerequisite, Letta has accepted an invitation to visit Libya on 8 July.
At the press conference, Zeidan, confirmed recent speculation that Italian contracts could soon be re-activated. The PM stated that companies were being encouraged to complete their existing contracts and even introduce new projects.
Answering questions on the recent proceedings in Egypt, Zeidan, held that Libya was with whatever choice was made by the Egyptian people and wished them “stability and safety”. Strategic relations would remain unchanged, as the two countries’ relationship was based on “neighbourly mutual respect”. As to the Egyptian Army’s role in the events, Zeidan said that Libya does not interfere in sovereign affairs of states, repeating that Libya backed the choice made by the people of Egypt. [/restrict]