ROME, JULY 26 – Italy may use its Navy ships against migrants traffickers, Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni said Wednesday after meeting Libyan Premier Fayez al-Sarraj in Rome.
“Sarraj sent me a letter a few days ago in which the Italian government is asked for technical support with naval units to the fight against the trafficking of human beings,” Gentiloni told a press conference: “The request is being examined by our defence ministry”.
Gentiloni said that Italy had Germany’s backing for its initiatives to stop human trafficking in the Mediterranean. “We are working together with the Libyan local and central authorities against trafficking,” Gentiloni said.
“A few hours ago I spoke to (German Chancellor Angela) Merkel
(on the telephone) and she confirmed Germany’s commitment to
support Italian initiatives to combat human trafficking and Italian-Libyan cooperation”.
A German government spokesperson said that, during the call, Merkel stressed the need for solidarity in the distribution of migrants throughout the European Union. Rome has appealed for help with the Mediterranean asylum-seeker crisis, saying its ability to cope is at the limit, after over 93,000 arrived via sea so far this year.
The premier added that he hopes Tuesday meeting in Paris between rival Libyan leaders produces lasting results. At the meeting hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron, Sarraj and General Khalifa Haftar, whose Libyan National Army controls parts of the east of the country, agreed on a ceasefire and new elections.
“Today’s meeting is particularly important because it comes after the one in Paris, which Italy hopes will produce important results in the coming weeks and months,” Gentiloni said. (@Ansa)