Rome, Sep 9 (IANS/AKI) Italy’s new centre-left-populist government will focus on the entire African continent, not just countries across the Mediterranean like war-torn Libya though stabilising it is a top property, Premier Giuseppe Conte said on Monday.
“I do not intend to limit my personal commitment to the southern shores of the Mediterranean.
“I intend to attract maximum attention to Africa, both by further strengthening dialogue at the highest level, and by personally interpreting in Europe the positive role that this continent must be able to play in international relations,” Conte said in an address to parliament ahead of a confidence vote – the first test of his new administration sworn in on Thursday.
Stabilising the turmoil-stricken former colony of Libya is a top priority, he said.
“My tireless and personal commitment to stabilising Libya has been the confirmation of the level of priority we attribute to this part of the world, which I have visited extensively with the aim of bringing about fruitful encounters and fruitful political ties,” Conte said.
Italy hosted an international conference on Libya last year and has been at the forefront of international diplomatic efforts to broker a ceasefire in the deadly five-month-old battle for Tripoli between eastern warlord Khalifa Haftar’s forces and militias loyal to the internationally recognised government. Over 100 civilians have been killed and 300 injured, and 120,000 civilians have been displaced in the fighting in Tripoli, according to the United Nations.
Libya was plunged into chaos with the Nato-backed ouster of late dictator Muammar Gaddafi in a popular uprising in 2011. Rival administrations in the east and west and a myriad of armed groups are vying for control of the oil-rich country, which was an Italian colony from 1911 until the 1940s.