Tripoli, 6 February 2013:
Libya and Italy showed off their desire for closer military collaboration today with a high-profile ceremony in Tripoli involving both countries’ defence ministers. During the ceremony at Tripoli’s navy base, the Italians presented Libya with 20 Italian PUMA armoured vehicles.
Both ministers stressed that cooperation in the military and security fields would see significant progress in the future.
According to Libyan Defense Minister Mohamed Barghathi, who thanked Italy for its support during the revolution, several of the 3,000 Libyans being trained as military specialists and officers abroad are currently in Italy and more are to be sent there soon. There would also be more Italian arms bought. “Italy,” he said “is a technologically advanced country and we will give it priority status for new armaments acquisitions”.
For his part, Italian Defence Minister Giampaolo Di Paola pointed out that the present close relations between the two countries had a long history behind them. “We may have only known each other for only for few hours,” he told Barghathi, “but Libya and Italy have known each other for more than 2,000 years”.
Both ministers stressed the need to intensify joint efforts to combat illegal immigration. Barghathi said that it was difficult to keep under control given Libya’s size. “We need your help,” he stated.
Referring to concerns about security in Libya, Di Paola added that Italy wanted “to help the new government by providing vehicles, training and a border control system. ”
Italy, he said, wanted Libya “to be stable and secure. We were among the first – under Prime Minister Mario Monti – to come here immediately after the liberation to reaffirm our friendly ties. There are several agreements for cooperation projects which have already been signed, such as the one on integrated surveillance of Libya’s borders.” [/restrict]