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Italian hydrocarbon giant Eni and Libya’s National Oil Company (NOC) signed a major deal on Saturday during Georgia Meloni’s visit to Tripoli. The Italian prime minister will be the first European leader to visit in two years.

“Libya is a priority for Italy, the stability of the Mediterranean, Italian security and the main challenges facing Europe, such as the energy crisis,” the head of government told reporters. Political situation of the country.

It was Ms Meloni’s second visit to the southern shores of the Mediterranean this week after a visit to Algiers, focusing specifically on gas supplies from Italy, which is trying to wean itself off a heavy dependence on Russian imports.

“Historic” deal

In Tripoli, the issue of energy was also central. The Prime Minister attended the signing of an agreement between Eni and NOC to develop two gas fields with an investment of $8 billion over three years.

It was hailed as the “first major project” of its kind in Libya for 20 to 25 years, the heads of the two groups, Claudio Descalzi and Farhad Pengdara. It is a “historic” deal in which the two parties have been working for “ten years” and welcomed the Italian giant, which has been in the country since 1959.

Ms Meloni’s visit will be the first of its kind at a European level since her predecessor, Mario Draghi, in April 2021, as part of a UN-sponsored peace process, since Abdelhamid Dibaba took office a month ago. leading to elections.

Political deadlock

Libya has been embroiled in a major political crisis since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, against a background of competing powers, numerous militias, mercenaries scattered across the country, and foreign intervention. Since March, two governments have been vying for power: Mr. Fatih Bachakah’s governments are supported by Khalifa Haftar’s camp, which is strong in Dibaba and the east of the country.

Mr. Bachaka described Ms Meloni’s visit on Tuesday as an attempt to “resurrect a dead government”, condemning Rome’s “opportunistic behaviour”.

We recalled our full presence to “promote a legitimate and fair course towards the elections” and to stabilize the Libyan political structure, Ms. Meloni underlined in Tripoli. Mr. Dbeibah said he “trusts Rome to bring together the viewpoints of countries that support the peace process”.

“First Business Partner”

Also, the two leaders expressed their determination to deepen bilateral economic ties.

Italy has confirmed itself as “Libya’s leading trade partner” with a trade of 10.17 billion euros in the first ten months of 2022 (+75.71% in the same period of 2021), according to the Italian Embassy in Tripoli. It has overtaken China to become “Libya’s second supplier country behind Turkey”.

Ms Meloni spoke of the renovation of Tripoli airport and the “soon to start direct flights” between the two countries.

Migration Agreement

In addition to the economic aspect, migration was at the center of the debate. Italy has been directly affected by the massive influx of illegal immigrants from the Libyan coast.

Ms. Meloni declared that this was “worrying not only for Italy but also for Europe”.

Among other unspecified “new activities”, Mr. According to Dibeba, “Rome will support Libya with five boats equipped” for search and rescue at sea.

The chaos that followed the fall of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime made Libya a preferred route for tens of thousands of migrants from sub-Saharan Africa, the Arab world and South Asia seeking to reach Europe.

Giorgia Meloni’s far-right government pledged in October to end illegal immigration, with more than 105,000 migrants arriving by sea in Italy by 2022, according to official figures.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported that 1,377 migrants died or went missing in the central Mediterranean – from Libya and Tunisia – in 2022.

This article was published automatically. Sources: ats / afp

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