Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni is set to delay until early next year a summit with African leaders, aimed at strengthening cooperation on issues including energy and migration, because of the conflict between Israel and Hamas.
(Bloomberg) — Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni is set to delay until early next year a summit with African leaders, aimed at strengthening cooperation on issues including energy and migration, because of the conflict between Israel and Hamas.
The Italy-Africa intergovernmental summit, originally scheduled for early next month in Rome, has been tentatively moved to January due to security concerns triggered by the conflict, according to officials who asked not be named on a confidential matter.
Announced by Meloni this summer and organized with the foreign ministry, the conference offers Rome the opportunity to present a so-called “Mattei plan” for Africa. The project, focusing on energy and migration, is named after Enrico Mattei, the founder of Italian energy company Eni SpA which has often acted as a political and business link between Italy and the continent.
Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi said earlier this week that the conflict between Israel and Hamas complicates Italy’s efforts to diversify energy supplies.
The decision to delay the conference comes just ahead of Meloni’s visit to Mozambique and the Republic of Congo later this week, where she will be joined by Descalzi.
Rescheduling the conference to early next year will make it coincide with Italy’s presidency of the Group of Seven nations. Boosting cooperation with and investments in Africa has been a signature part of Meloni’s foreign policy, as Italy relies heavily on the continent for its energy needs.
“Africa is not a poor continent, and while Europe has an issue with energy supplies, Africa is a potential big producer of energy,” Meloni said earlier this month at an event in Turin.
Italy is on track to receive the biggest number of migrant arrivals since 2016 this year. More than 133,220 people have made the journey across the Mediterranean by boat since the start of this year through Sept. 30, according to the latest UNHCR data.
(Updates with Descalzi remark in fourth paragraph)
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