Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte unveiled Monday from Washington Italy’s plan to host a major conference in Rome to work on stability in the North African country, which has become a major departure point for migrants.
“In agreement with President (Donald) Trump, I’m going to organize a conference on Libya,” Conte told reporters at the White House after meeting with the U.S. president.
“We would like to deal (with) and discuss all of the issues related to the Libyan people, involving all of the stakeholders, actors, protagonists in the whole of the Mediterranean,” he added.
The conference is expected to take place in autumn and will include the United States.
“We are going to discuss economic aspects, but also social aspects: the need for protection of civil rights; the problem of constitutional process – of issuing and passing laws so as to enable Libya, in particular, to get to democratic elections in a condition of the utmost stability,” Conte said.
The Italian initiative is competing with France’s efforts to play a key role in re-organizing Libya, which has been torn apart by factions supported by some foreign countries.
Conte expects to surf on the US endorsement to position Italy as the major interlocutor for Libya’s warring factions.
Italy was the first foreign country to re-open its mission in Tripoli last year after it pulled out staff in 2015 amid deteriorating security situation.
As Italy became the main destination for thousands of migrants who have turned Libya’s into a key departure point, Italy’s new populist government revived early July a Gaddafi-era agreement dating back to 2008 and offered $5 billion in aid for the reparations to Libya to stop migrants sailing across the Mediterranean.
The EU member-country, now led by Conte’s anti-migration coalition, has lately refused to take in migrants, igniting the anger of NGOs and migrants’ charities.
An Italian towboat recently rescued more than 100 migrants but had to return them to Libya. The United Nations said on Tuesday this may have been in breach of international law.
Under international law, migrants rescued in international waters cannot be returned to a place where their lives are put in danger. Both the United Nations and the European Union have acknowledged that Libya is not safe.