Italy’s chief diplomat held talks Sunday with Egyptian and Arab League officials in Cairo that focused on regional security and the conflict in neighboring Libya, as well as sensitive bilateral issues.
Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani said his meeting with President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi covered energy security and economic cooperation in the Mediterranean, but focused “above all” on political instability in Libya and the efforts to stop “irregular immigration” from that country.
The Italian foreign minister also met with Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul-Gheit.
Tajani said his trip to Egypt and before that Tunisia, and the visit of Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni to Algeria were part of Italy’s efforts to boost its energy ties in the region and most importantly to stem the flow of migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea to Europe.
“One must do more because for us the energy theme is one of extraordinary importance ... energy costs are too high to stay competitive, even within the European Union,” he said.
Egypt, which hosts more than 6 million migrants, has touted for years its efforts to prevent migrant boats departing from its shores. But in 2022 Egyptian migrants were among the top nationalities arriving to European shores mainly by traveling first through neighboring Libya before taking perilous sea voyages.
“The solution to the Libya problem is part of the solution to the illegal immigration problem,” he said, adding that Italy could receive “more legal migrants” including from Egypt, if illegal crossings were brought under control.
Libya has become a hub for African and Middle Eastern migrants seeking to travel to Europe, with Italy receiving tens of thousands every year. Rome has struck deals with the authorities in the Libyan capital of Tripoli in recent years to try to prevent the flow of migrants.