Italy hoping to outmaneuver France and make deal with Trump over Libya

Alwasat - Cairo Mon 30 Jul 2018, 09:12 PM
alwasat radio

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte began an official visit to the United States on Sunday evening, during which he met with US President Donald Trump on Monday at the White House.

Conte has many vital files to present to President Trump, whom he met with on July 12, on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Brussels. Trump called him a "good person."

The files range from Italy's willingness to be NATO's operational leader in the Mediterranean, US energy policy in Europe, particularly on gas supplies and increased dependence on US gas, reviewing a number of Russian gas supply projects in the European continent, most importantly the Adriatic pipeline according to diplomatic sources.

Italy also wants broader coordination with the United States in the area of ​​trade, and protection of Italian industries from the US tariffs.

The US-Italian summit marks the first meeting between Trump and a fully-dominated populist government in Europe. European officials are following the meeting with apprehension.

But, in addition to bilateral security issues and outstanding trade issues, Libya remains the most interesting issue in the Trump and Conte talks.

La Stampa reported on Sunday that the first question Trump will ask Conte will be "What can we help you with in Libya?"

The newspaper said that Conte will request Washington's direct support in Libya and North Africa.

"Conte will have to tell President Trump that the French president is seeking to expand the strategic influence of his country at the expense of Italy in Libya and in the region," according to the same newspaper.

La Stampa said the White House would support Italy's position on the postponement of the December 10 elections, a date set by France when Italy was experiencing a political crisis last spring.

The newspaper stressed that Washington will support Italy as the main western power dealing with Libyan authorities due to converging views on migration.

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