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Italy to begin new round of coalition talks on Thursday

Italy's political parties will start a new round of talks on Thursday in a bid to form a government after last month's inconclusive election.

Italy to begin new round of coalition talks on Thursday
Inside the presidential palace, where Italy's political parties will begin a second round of consultations on Thursday. Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

President Sergio Mattarella will begin meeting parties separately from 10 am on April 12th, he announced on Tuesday, before consulting the speakers of Italy's two houses of parliament on April 13th. 

The first round of talks between Mattarella and Italy's main political factions last week failed to end the deadlock created by the March 4th vote, which resulted in two large blocs but no majority. 

The biggest faction, a rightwing coalition, is scheduled to meet Mattarella late on Thursday afternoon, after he first consults with smaller parties. The final session of the day is reserved for the Five Star Movement (M5S), Italy's single largest party.

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M5S leader Luigi Di Maio said he did not expect to meet representatives from the rightwing alliance ahead of the talks.

There would be “no use” meeting the head of the bloc's leading party, Matteo Salvini of the League, the Five Star leader told the Fatto Quotidiano newspaper on Tuesday. The movement insists that it won't agree to a deal with the alliance if it includes Forza Italia, the centre-right party led by Silvio Berlusconi. 

But the alliance shows no sign of dropping the former prime minister, its leaders meeting at Berlusconi's house last Sunday where they agreed to present “a common front” in the next round of talks. 

Speaking on Monday, Salvini nonetheless rated his chances of reaching a deal with the M5S at “51 percent“, an estimate that Di Maio promptly revised to “zero percent”. 

If the M5S continues to reject the right's proposals, Salvini told Ansa, the alliance is prepared to return to the polls.

“Let's vote, the Italians will give their vote to those they trust more and I think that will be us,” he said.

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POLITICS

Italy’s Meloni in Libya to discuss energy and migration

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni arrived on Saturday in the Libyan capital Tripoli for talks on energy as well as the thorny issue of migration, Libyan state media said.

Italy's Meloni in Libya to discuss energy and migration

Meloni’s trip – her second to a North African country this week – is the first by a European leader to war-battered Libya since her predecessor Mario Draghi’s visit in April 2021.

State television said the Italian premier was received by Abdelhamid Dbeibah, who heads the Tripoli-based, UN brokered Government of National Unity which is contested by a rival administration in the east.

Libya and its former colonial power Italy are key trade partners, particularly in energy, where Italian giant Eni plays a major role in tapping into Africa’s largest known oil reserves.

Meloni was accompanied by Eni chief Claudio Descalzi, who is expected to sign a deal with Libya’s National Oil Company to develop two Libyan offshore gas fields.

Eni will invest $8 million in the two fields, NOC chief Farhat Bengdara said in televised remarks this week, adding they are expected to produce 850 million cubic metres of gas.

Meloni visited Algeria on Monday seeking supply deals from Africa’s top gas exporter to help reduce reliance on Russia after it invaded Ukraine last year.

During her trip to Libya, she is also expected to discuss the issue of migration amid rising numbers of irregular migrants from Libya to Italy.

Libya has been wracked by years of conflict and division since a NATO-backed revolt toppled dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011.

The country is a conduit for thousands of people each year fleeing conflict and poverty across Africa, seeking refuge across the Mediterranean in Europe.

Meloni’s far-right government took office in October, vowing to stop migrant landings in Italy, which reached more than 105,000 in 2022.

The central Mediterranean route is considered the world’s most treacherous, according to the International Organization for Migration, which estimated that 1,377 migrants had disappeared on that route last year.

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