The Italian Interior Minister met with his Libyan counterpart in Tripoli on Monday to discuss the “immigration emergency” facing Europe.
Before setting off for his visit, Matteo Salvini demanded that foreign charities stop rescuing migrants off the North African coast and bringing them to Italy.
“Let the Libyan authorities do their work of rescue, recovery and return [of migrants] to their country, as they have been doing for some time, without the ships of the voracious NGOs disturbing them or causing trouble,” he told journalists.
“Italian ports are and will be closed to those who aid human traffickers,” he added.
After touching down in Libya, Salvini met with Libyan Interior Minister Abdulasalam Ashour, and tweeted his commitment to “reinforce the friendship and cooperation between our two countries on all fronts, starting with the immigration emergency.”
Salvini became the first member of Italy’s new government to visit Libya, the war-torn nation which collapsed into multiple warring factions in 2011 following a NATO intervention to topple Muammar Gaddafi.
Libyan Deputy PM Ahmed Maiteeq told the Italian newspaper La Repubblica Monday that Tripoli sees cooperation with Italy on the trafficking issue as “crucial.”