Gentiloni meets Sarraj, says Libyans must lead agst ISIS

Minister meets Cairo ambassador to discuss Regeni measures

12 April, 20:33

    Italian Foreign Minister visits Libya Italian Foreign Minister visits Libya

    (By Denis Greenan).

    ROME - Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni on Tuesday met Libyan Premier-designate Fayez al-Sarraj in Tripoli and said Libya must take the lead in fighting Islamic State (ISIS) militants.

    Also Tuesday, Gentiloni was set to meet ambassador to Egypt Maurizio Massari, recalled from Cairo last week after the breakdown of judicial cooperation on Giulio Regeni's murder, to discuss fresh measures to up the pressure on Egypt to collaborate in a probe into the Cambridge doctoral researcher's torture and death. Gentiloni said on a visit to Tripoli that "the Libyans and the national unity government must lead the fight against ISIS in the country". He said Italy, and the international community, was ready to cooperate and give its contribution but the fight against terrorism was up to the Libyans before anybody else.

    Italy has stressed that, if requested by the Libyan government, it is ready to play a role in helping Libya fight ISIS militants, who have gained footholds at several places along the Libyan coast.

    Italy delivered humanitarian aid to Libya on a C-130 transport plane Tuesday, Gentiloni said, stressing the aid included medical kits for Tripoli hospital and that further aid would soon be destined for Benghazi. Italy has vowed to help the Tripoli government ease a humanitarian crisis caused by widespread fighting among militias and by ISIS.

    Gentiloni was the first senior official of a foreign government to visit the Libyan capital after the installation of the presidential council two weeks ago for a United Nations-backed government of national unity.

    Sarraj thanked Gentiloni for his visit and stressed the importance of strengthening ties with Italy. "With Italy there is a very deeply rooted relationship which we intend to strengthen" as regards fighting illegal immigration and terrorism," he said.

    Meanwhile international aid groups including Amnesty International and Doctors Without Borders slammed a fence Austria is building at the Brenner Pass to keep an expected wave of migrants from Italy out.

    The "commensurate" measures that Italy wants to adopt to pressure Egypt over the Regeni case were set to be evaluated during a meeting late Tuesday between Gentiloni and Ambassador to Cairo Maurizio Massari, who has returned to Rome for consultations after the failure of Egyptian investigations.

    The head of Italian diplomacy has no intention of setting off "global wars" but the line of the government is to demand the truth from Cairo. Economic forms of retaliation are currently off the table because they are viewed as counterproductive and useless, especially if only at the bilateral level. A suspension of cultural agreements is being considered, and a warning for Italian researchers and students that are in Egypt or are planning to go there. 

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