April 17, 2016 / 2:52 PM / 2 years ago

Italian minister hopes Libya seals borders, offers help: TV

MILAN (Reuters) - Italy said on Sunday it hoped Libya’s U.N.-backed unity government could restore control of the country’s borders to limit migrant flows from north and south and was ready to help in any way it could.

Italy's Interior Minister Angelino Alfano arrives for a confidence vote at the Senate in Rome February 24, 2014. REUTERS/Remo Casilli

The French and German Foreign Ministers visited Tripoli on Saturday to show support for the government and said they were ready to offer training for the country’s security forces and border guards if asked.

“We hope Libya blocks both its northern border, from where (migrants) leave to reach us, and its southern border, through which people coming from places such as the Horn of Africa enter the country and use it as a hub to reach Europe,” Italian Interior Minister Alfano told TV channel Sky TG24.

Alfano said some 90 percent of migrants arriving on Italian shores came from Libya. Rome was proposing European Union financial aid to African countries in exchange for help in controlling migrant flows.

Alfano said he would meet his Libyan colleague soon, adding he would offer the Italian government’s support to Tripoli.

“I will tell my Libyan colleague that Italy is ready to give any help and cooperation,” Alfano said, adding that Italian police could offer support to Tripoli.

Italy, Libya’s former colonial ruler, has played a prominent role in rallying international support for the new government.

Western powers hope the new government can unite Libya’s warring factions, end its political chaos and request foreign help to tackle Islamic State insurgents and migrant trafficking across the Mediterranean.

(This version of the story was corrected to delete erroneous reference to Italian minister in Tripoli on Saturday)

Reporting by Francesca Landini; editing by Ralph Boulton

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