Rome: Libyan rebel leader Mustafa Abdel
Jalil was to meet Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi today on a visit to Libya`s former colonial ruler after it recognised the opposition to Moamer Gaddafi.
Jalil, a former justice minister who was critical of
abuses under Gaddafi, was expected in Rome after a visit to
Qatar on his first foreign tour in his new role, as fighting
between rebels and regime loyalists rages in Libya.
France, Italy and Qatar are the only countries to
recognise the rebels.
The Transitional National Council chief`s visit to
Rome will kick off with talks with Foreign Minister Franco
Frattini expected to start at 0700 GMT (local time), to be
followed by meetings with President Giorgio Napolitano and
Jalil is also set to meet with representatives of the
Catholic charity Sant`Egidio, which has played a major role in
conflict mediation in Africa.
Italian policy on Libya has seen some dramatic twists
and turns in recent weeks, with growing opposition to the regime despite initially friendly ties between Berlusconi and Gaddafi that have been widely criticised.
Italy is Libya`s top trade partner and the two
countries signed a treaty in 2008 that opened the way for
billions of euros (dollars) in investments in each other`s
economies, many of which have now been suspended.
Italian energy major ENI is also the top foreign oil
producer in Libya.
"Italy is extremely worried about the situation for
civilians in Libya, particularly in Misrata," a city that has
been under siege from Gaddafi`s forces for almost two months,
a foreign ministry spokesman said yesterday.
Maurizio Massari also said that Gaddafi`s exile was "a