July 30, 2018 / 6:59 PM / 5 months ago

Italy's Conte says he is organising a conference on stabilising Libya

U.S. President Donald Trump and Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte hold a joint news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., July 30, 2018. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Monday he was organising a conference to look for ways to stabilise Libya, a main departure point for migrants from North Africa trying to reach Europe.

“In agreement with President (Donald) Trump, I’m going to organise a conference on Libya,” Conte told reporters at the White House after meeting with the U.S. president.

“We would like to deal (with) and discuss all of the issues related to the Libyan people, involving all of the stakeholders, actors, protagonists in the whole of the Mediterranean,” said Conte, who took office last month promising a crackdown on immigration.

Italy has told its allies it wants to hold an international conference on Libya this autumn and Conte was eager to get Trump’s blessing for the gathering at their meeting on Monday.

Italy is competing with neighbouring France over how best to deal with Libya, which has been wracked by violence for years.

Conte believes a conference in Rome, backed by the United States, will help Rome establish itself as the major interlocutor for Libya’s warring factions.

After their meeting, Conte said Trump had agreed Italy would become “a reference point in Europe and the main interlocutor for the main issues that need to be faced ... with particular reference to Libya.”

“We are going to discuss economic aspects, but also social aspects: the need for protection of civil rights; the problem of constitutional process - of issuing and passing laws so as to enable Libya, in particular, to get to democratic elections in a condition of the utmost stability,” Conte said.

Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Additional reporting by Crispian Balmer in Rome; Writing by Tim Ahmann; Editing by Doina Chiacu and Frances Kerry

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