Giorgia Meloni in Libya for a visit focused on bilateral cooperation

The head of the Italian government, Giorgia Meloni, began a visit to Libya on Tuesday, May 7, focused on bilateral cooperation, during which she was to meet leaders of the two rival camps vying for power

Giorgia Meloni in Libya for a visit focused on bilateral cooperation

The head of the Italian government, Giorgia Meloni, began a visit to Libya on Tuesday, May 7, focused on bilateral cooperation, during which she was to meet leaders of the two rival camps vying for power.

Accompanied by a ministerial delegation, Ms. Meloni met shortly after her arrival with the head of the Tripoli-based government, Abdel Hamid Dbeibah, according to official sources. She must then go to Benghazi to meet Marshal Khalifa Haftar, the strong man of eastern Libya, "in accordance with Italy's consolidated commitment to be present throughout Libya and to work with all actors Libyans,” according to a statement from the Italian government.

On the occasion of this visit, the ministers accompanying Ms. Meloni will sign with their Libyan counterparts “declarations of intent” on cooperation projects in the fields of health, education, research, youth and sports.

These agreements are part of the "Mattei Plan", named after Enrico Mattei, founder of ENI (the Italian public energy giant), who, in the 1950s, advocated a cooperative relationship with African countries in helping them to develop their natural resources, specifies the Italian press release. During her first visit to Libya at the end of January 2023, Ms. Meloni sealed a major gas agreement with this country with the most abundant hydrocarbon reserves on the continent.

Libya, mired in a major political crisis since the fall of dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, is governed by two rival executives: one in Tripoli (West), led by Mr. Dbeibah and recognized by the UN, the other in the East, embodied by Parliament and affiliated with Marshal Haftar's camp.

Taking advantage of this political instability, smugglers illegally emigrate each year thousands of people, particularly from African countries, who try to reach Italy, some 300 kilometers from the Libyan coast. Ms. Meloni pleaded on April 17 for a “new approach” towards Africa, particularly on the migration issue, during a visit to Tunisia, a neighboring country to Libya and one of the main departure points of migrants to Europe.