By Libya Herald reporters.
Benghazi, 16 October 2017:
Italian ambassador Giuseppe Perrone has been in Benghazi four months after a satirical social media post by his embassy in Tripoli infuriated the House of Representatives (HoR).
Perrone today visited the city’s reopened port and the university and had talks with mayor Abdelrahman Elabbar and the Benghazi chamber of commerce.
There were no echoes of the June row, when the parliament’s defence committee sought to ban the ambassador from the east of the country after the embassy’s Twitter feed (its web page is still under construction) mocked the committee’s list of 75 Libyans whom it had designated as “terrorists”.
Today’s visit was marked by friendliness all round. Perrone said afterwards that infrastructure investment was crucial for the development of Libya’s economy. He said that now that Benghazi was stable, it was time to build the future. He insisted there was a joint commitment between Libya and Italy to deepen economic, cultural and social ties.
He added that Italy was working with the mayor and the city’s chamber of commerce to rebuild Benghazi in partnership with Italian companies.
“Let’s rebuild what was lost” he said on social media. During his visit to the university, he praised the way academic activities had continued despite the conflict.
In April before the row blew up over the tweet, which was quickly deleted, Perrone had been working to convince the east that Rome was not favouring any of the rival parties in Libya. He had visited Benghazi for talks with armed forces commander-in-chief Khalifa Hafter and HoR president Ageela Saleh in which it was agreed that Libyan National Army (LNA) wounded would be flown to Italy for treatment in military hospitals.
In July, Italy also opened an agency in Tobruk to process applications for EU Schengen visas.