Rome, Tripoli sign defence deal over hospitals, training

Italy and Libya signed an agreement on Friday to collaborate in the defence areas of training, health care and de-mining activities.

Italian Defence Minister Lorenzo Guerini met his Libyan counterpart Salahuddin Al-Namroush in Rome, where they signed the “Joint Technical Military Cooperation Agreement,” which renews a deal signed in 2013.

It calls for identifying new ways to collaborate in medical health care, starting with the training of Libyan medical staff by members of Italy’s field hospital in the northwestern Libyan city of Misrata. 

It also commits to “a significant training plan for Libyan cadets and officers,” and underlines Italy’s willingness to collaborate on a de-mining centre, according to Guerini, who visited Tripoli in August.

“Our commitment is primarily directed to support the process of stabilisation, pacification and institutional reorganisation we all hope for,” he said in a statement.

Libya is in the midst of a protracted civil war, with Italy backing the UN-recognised government of Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, who is opposed by strongman Khalifa Haftar.

Italy retains significant energy assets in Libya, its former colony, and last year renewed a controversial deal signed in 2017 with the Libyan coastguard to block illegal migrants trying to leave from the country’s coast to Italy.