The Address | Benghazi – Libya
TRIPOLI – Italian Defense Minister Elisabetta Trenta begins an official visit to Libya, the first since she took office last month.
This is also the first visit to Trenta after her controversial comments on Italy’s role in the North-African country three weeks ago. “In Libya, the leadership is ours.” The Italian Defense Minister Elisabetta Trenta told her French counterpart Florence Parly in a phone call between the two early July, according to Huffington Post Italy.
Trenta comments revealed the competition between Italy and France on how the Libyan crisis should be managed. This is also supported by the fact that the Italian Defense Minister’s visit comes only one day after the visit of French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian to Libya, which was a French push for elections in Libya. Italy opposes holding elections, which aligns with the position of Islamists militias controlling Tripoli.
In her visit to Tripoli, Trenta will discuss with officials from Presidential council issues of illegal migration, combating terrorism, and joint defense and security cooperation, Italian media sources said.
According to the Address sources, the Italian minister will also discuss with Libyan officials the plan put forward by the Italian Interior Minister, Matteo Salvini, to support the Libyan Coast Guard and Navy to strengthen its role in combating illegal migration flows. Italy also wants EU to set up migrant centers south of Libya, and tries to convince Libyan officials to accept this proposal presented by Salvini.
Last week, the commander of the Italian Coast Guard, has promised to provide about 12 rubber boats to the Tripoli-based Coast Guard, and the maintenance of boats that were already provided by Italy to Libya.