Italy’s prime minister has signed a memorandum of understanding with Libya to curb the flow of migrants to Europe. Rome has pledged money, training and equipment to help the UN-backed Libyan government to manage its vast desert borders and boost its limited coast guard fleet. “It’s an agreement which strengthens the cooperation between Italy and Libya in many areas. There is need for development, stability, reconstruction, rebirth of unity. On the other side the agreement commits Italy to strongly support Libya,” Italy’s premier Paolo Gentiloni said.
Libya’ s prime minister flew to Rome on the eve of the EU summit to sign the agreement.Italian Interior Minister Marco Minniti met Libyan mayors on Saturday to renew a commitment to fight illegal immigration and human trafficking as part of an agreement signed earlier this year between Rome and Tripoli. The meeting also focused on fostering alternatives to human smuggling and trade in contrabands in Libyan towns heavily affected by illegal immigration.“Youngsters in those areas and the whole of Libya deserve a future of hope, free from the threats of criminal organizations” both sides said in a statement issued by Italy’s Interior Ministry.WATCH VIDEO HERE:According to reports, more than 600,000 migrants have reached Italy by sea from the Northern African Countries since 2014, most of them from Libya where human smugglers have operated with impunity in the turmoil that followed the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.The subject of immigration is dominating Italy’s political agenda ahead of general elections due before May next year with public opinion increasingly hostile to migrants.After a surge in migrant arrivals from Libya at the start of the year, the numbers have recently slowed and Minniti said earlier this month those trends would continue in August.Saturday’s meeting also included, among others, Italy’s ambassador to Tripoli and representatives of the European Commission.