Italy’s Mediterranean naval mission gets new commander

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Rome, Aug 7 (IANS/AKI) Italian Rear Admiral Enrico Pacioni on Monday became the new commander of his country’s naval mission in the Mediterranean, which is now conducting security operations in some 160,000 square km including Libyan coastal waters.

Following a request to Rome from Libya’s UN-backed unity government chief Fayez al-Sarraj, the Italian parliament on August 2 approved the naval mission aimed at aiding Libyan Coastguard fight the gangs trafficking migrants across the Mediterranean.

Libya’s unity government said it had only requested logistical and technical support for Libyan Coastguard from Italy, Libya’s LANA news quoted the country’s Foreign Ministry as stating last week.

The Italian naval mission has heightened disagreement between Sarraj’s unity government and the rival administration in the eastern city of Tobruk which in recent days has slammed the mission as “a violation of Libyan sovereignty”.

Italy’s naval mission to Libya will not be “aggressive” but will give support to its crisis-hit former colony, Premier Paolo Gentiloni stated last Wednesday after lawmakers voted in favour of the mission.

–IANS/AKI

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