UN envoy praises Italy's naval mission off Libya to tackle migrant crisis

Source: Xinhua| 2017-08-08 20:50:45|Editor: Zhou Xin
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ROME, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) -- Italy's naval mission to tackle human trafficking off Libya would be a proper path to try to solve the migrant crisis, local media quoted the UN special envoy to Libya as saying on Tuesday.

"I am aware the issue has been a matter for discussion," Ghassan Salame was quoted by Ansa news agency as saying, adding "Yet, I believe cooperation and transparency between Italy and Libya is the most productive approach to reach results."

The Lebanese former culture minister, who was appointed special representative of the United Nations to Libya in late June, spoke at a joint press conference with Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano in Rome.

"We are on the right path concerning this issue, which poses a challenge to all of us," the diplomat said.

Although the UN were trying their best to tackle the migrant and refugee crisis, Salame explained that every country had the "absolute right to control its borders," and the best way to do so was "cooperation between neighboring countries," according to La Stampa newspaper.

Speaking more widely about the Libyan chaotic scenario, the UN envoy said he was willing to "communicate with Libya from all political and social spectrums to hear their views," according to the twitter of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL).

For his part, Italy's foreign minister stressed the key points driving Rome's policy on the war-torn North African country. The Italian minister warned against separate diplomatic efforts from the international community, saying they might in fact hamper the peace process.

"It is necessary to reduce the many diplomatic formats on Libya down to one, and the United Nations must take the lead," he told reporters.

"Too many negotiators and initiatives have produced no results so far. Yet, Libya's political instability is a top priority to tackle," noted the minister.

It's not the first time for Alfano to voice against separated initiatives on Libya, which he believes would risk delegitimating the UN special envoy's work.

He did so in late July, after French President Emmanuel Macron had held talks with two key Libyan rival leaders in Paris in an effort to help the peace process.

Italy's naval mission off Libya was approved by Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni's center-left cabinet on July 28, and authorized by parliament on Aug. 2.

The mission would aim at providing logistical, technical, and operational support to the Libyan coast guard in the activities against illegal immigration and human trafficking.

Italian navy's vessels would be operating in Libyan waters and Libyan ports following a specific request by the UN-backed government in Tripoli, according to Italian authorities.

The mission was part of a wider effort by the Italian government to curb the inflow of people fleeing poverty and war from Africa and the Middle East through the perilous crossing of the Mediterranean from the Libyan shores.

Italy has become a major gateway for those trying to reach Europe in latest years, especially after the shutdown of the so-called Balkan route in early 2016.