ROME: Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs Luigi Di Maio said on Wednesday that Italian firms “may” help rebuild Benghazi airport, and confirmed that Italy’s project to extend a coastal motorway from Libya’s border with Tunisia to its one with Egypt would begin “in a few months.”
During questions at the Italian Chamber of Deputies, Di Maio also said that a visit to Rome by Libyan Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Mohammed Dabaiba is in the pipeline, during which Dabaiba would meet with a forum of Italian business leaders to “boost our chances of economic cooperation.” No date has yet been set for Dabaiba’s visit.
“We are now facing a new era of relations between Italy and Libya”, Di Maio told Arab News. “In order to enhance Libya’s newfound unity, it is in Italy’s interests to ensure our institutional presence in Cyrenaica and Fezzan. As well as our embassy in Tripoli — the only European diplomatic mission to remain open even during Libya’s most difficult moments — we are reactivating the Consulate General of Italy in Benghazi, where we have already appointed Carlo Batori as general consul.”
The foreign minister added that Italy will also open an honorary consulate will be opened in Sebha, in the south of Libya, as well as an office of the Italian Foreign Trade commission and an Italian Cultural Institute in Tripoli.
“Strengthening our network in Libya will be essential in order to reactivate all those projects which were suspended due to instability in the country and to launch new ones,” Di Maio, who met with his Libyan counterpart Najla El-Mangoush in Rome last week, added.
Di Maio has visited Libya three times since the country’s new provisional government was installed in early March.
“Only a year ago, many believed it unthinkable that Libya could have a national government representative of all its territorial realities. Today, all this has been made possible thanks to the process started by the United Nations. Italy has always supported that process at every level,” Di Maio said. “The next few months will be critical for the Libyan people and Italy will continue to stand alongside Libya, our strategic partner in the Mediterranean.”