Lavrov says Russia ready to help Italy on Libya (3)

Foreign minister says Rome 'strategic partner'

(ANSA) - Moscow, December 9 - Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Wednesday that Moscow was ready to assist Italy in its efforts to stabilise Libya. "I understand how important the problem of Libya is for Italy, both for geographic and historical reasons," Lavrov told a meeting with Italian reporters. "We reiterate our understanding and we are ready to help.
    (Russian President Vladimir) Putin has told (Italian Premier Matteo) Renzi this".
    Chaos in Libya, where two conflicting governments claim to be the legitimate powers, has been blamed for the deterioration in the Mediterranean migrant crisis and there are concerns about the spread of ISIS in the former Italian colony.
    "I don't know if (ISIS leader Abu Bakr) al-Baghdadi is in Libya, but we have information that ISIS in (the Libyan city of) Sirte and that his cells are there in addition to the local militias and that Sirte is becoming a branch of (ISIS's 'capital' in Syria) Raqqa," Lavrov said.
    "This raises concerns. It's important for al-Baghdadi to show that his project is a success with the continual expansion of the caliphate". Lavrov also said Italy, whose position on Russia on issues including the Ukraine crisis has been softer than other Western States, was a key partner for Moscow.
    "We greatly value the relations between Russia and Italy because they are of a particularly strategic nature," he said.
    "The relationship is not just on paper, it's rooted in the countries' reciprocal fellings about how we live life and about how we want to build relations with Europe".


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