Accessibility links

Breaking News

Italy PM: Rome Backs Tunisia IMF Bailout

FILE: Migrants gather outside the offices of the International Organization for Migration (OIM) after Tunisian police dismantled a makeshift camp for refugees from sub-Saharan African countries in front of the UNHCR headquarters in Tunis, on April 12, 2023.

TUNIS - Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said on Tuesday Rome backed efforts to secure an International Monetary Fund bailout for Tunisia and support to tackle its growing migrant problem.

The Italian PM She had talks on Tuesday in Tunis with President Kais Saied, whose country is going through a dire financial crisis and political tensions.

Tunisia also has a substantial number of migrants and refugees from Africa, many of whom try to get to the European Union by taking makeshift boats into the Mediterranean Sea to reach a nearby Italian island.

After nearly two hours of talks with Saied, Meloni reiterated that Italy has been pressing for a "pragmatic" approach to the IMF bailout through the European Union and G7.

Meloni also said she has been advocating through the E.U. for a "concrete approach to step up support for Tunisia in its fight against human trafficking and illegal migration."

Tunisia's coastline is less than 150 kilometers from Lampedusa, and the flow of migrants from Tunisia intensified after Saied made a fiery speech on February 21 claiming that illegal immigration was a demographic threat to his nation.

Meloni said she discussed with Saied the idea of hosting a conference in Rome to thrash out the problems of illegal migration and ways to bolster development.

The meeting, for which no date was revealed, could bring together representatives of Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Gulf countries "to hear their needs and elaborate projects to attract investments," she said.

Meloni also called for "growth in democracy" and political stability in Tunisia, where tensions have run high since Saied launched a sweeping power grab in July 2021, rocking the democracy in the birthplace of the 2011 Arab Spring revolts.