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ROME: The Italian Prime Minister has said it is time for his country and Libya to rebuild their “long-standing friendship”, but a condition of cooperation is that the ceasefire in the North African state will end. continues.

Mario Draghi traveled to Tripoli on Tuesday on his first international trip as head of the Italian government. He had a long meeting with Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, Prime Minister of the Libyan transitional government responsible for leading the country to general elections scheduled for the end of 2021.

“This is a unique moment for Libya,” Draghi said during a press conference with Dbeibah in the presence of Arab News. “There is a government of national unity legitimized by Parliament which is advancing on the path of national reconciliation. It’s a unique moment to rebuild what was a long-standing friendship.

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Draghi described his meeting with Dbeibah as “extraordinarily satisfying,” adding, “We talked about cooperation in the areas of infrastructure, energy, health and culture.”

Draghi recalled that “the Italian Embassy in Libya has never closed, even during the most difficult times for this country”, saying that it was “a clear proof of the exceptional importance that we have always given to relations between our nations ”.

He promised that Italy would increase scholarships for Libyan students and the activities of the Italian Institute of Culture in Tripoli.

“There is a will to make this partnership the engine of the future, with full respect for Libyan sovereignty,” said Draghi.

“There is a desire to see trade and cultural exchange return to levels of five to six years ago, and well above.”

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Dbeibah said he expects “an increase in collaboration between Italy and Libya in the fields of energy and electricity production”.

He recalled the contracts already signed between Libya and the Italian oil and gas company ENI, and expressed the hope that “we will be able to move forward in achieving real development”. Dbeibah said a health cooperation agreement with Italy was in the works.

Draghi said, “We have many projects to work on together, and there is a desire to start over. Basically there is a desire to get things done and get them done quickly.

A diplomatic adviser to Draghi told Arab News that he is the second Italian prime minister to have chosen Libya as his first visit abroad, “even before Germany or the United States”, and that between two leaders “we perceived a good atmosphere which bodes well for the future relationship.

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The adviser said that a large part of the meeting was devoted to “an in-depth exchange of views on the issue of migrants”.

Most migrants trying to reach Europe are said to have started their journey via the Mediterranean from Libya.

Italy has in the past provided substantial aid and boats to the Libyan Coast Guard to patrol the national coastline and prevent migrants from leaving.

“Our two countries face immigration as a common challenge,” said Dbeibah. “The problem does not only concern Libya and Italy, because they are both countries of passage. Immigration is indeed a European and international problem, and must be addressed on a global scale. “

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