Italy’s prime minister on a visit Tuesday to the Libyan capital of Tripoli — his first trip abroad since taking office — lauded the country’s efforts to curb the flow of migrants to Europe.
Following in the footsteps of other European leaders who recently met with Libya’s new interim government, Prime Minister Mario Draghi held talks with Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dabaiba.
Libya’s interim Government of National Unity, which took power last month, is meant to shepherd the country through general elections on Dec. 24.
Speaking at a press conference, Draghi said the fact that he made Libya the destination of his first trip outside Italy was evidence of the solid, historic ties between the two countries that he aimed to deepen.
“There’s a desire for a future, to restart quickly,” Draghi said. He added that Italy was satisfied with Libya’s efforts on migrant rescues, and said the European Union was invested in the issue, which he said “is not just geopolitical but humanitarian.”
Italy, as part of the EU, has cooperated with local Libyan institutions to try to stem the tide of migrants, with tens of thousands setting off from Libyan shores, many with Italy as an intended destination.
In recent years, the union has partnered with Libya’s coast guard and other local groups to stem such dangerous sea crossings. Rights groups, however, say those policies leave migrants at the mercy of armed groups or confined in squalid detention centers rife with abuses.