Gaddafi visit opens new era in Italy-Libya relations
Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi will have a packed schedule when he arrives here on Wednesday for his first, historic visit to the Italian capital.
Gaddafi arrives for his three-day stay at 11am (local) at the head of a 300-strong delegation and will be met at the airport by Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi, who visited Libya last March after Tripoli ratified an historic friendship and cooperation accord between the two countries.
The 67-year-old Libyan leader's first official appointment will be a meeting and luncheon with President Giorgio Napolitano at the Quirinale Palace.
Gaddafi will then meet with Berlusconi at the premier's office in Palazzo Chigi at 6pm for talks which will include Foreign Minister Franco Frattini.
This will be followed by the signing of a number of technical accords linked with the friendship and cooperation treaty and a joint press conference by the Libyan and Italian leaders.
Thursday morning will see Gaddafi go to the Senate for a meeting with Speaker Renato Schifani and at 12:30pm he is set to take part in a debate with students at Rome's La Sapienza University.
Security will be tight at the university because left-wing students have vowed to stage protests against a joint Italian-Libyan policy to block would-be immigrants and possible asylum-seekers from reaching Italy, which includes intercepting them at sea and sending them back to Libya.
At 6pm the Libyan leader is expected at Rome's city hall, on the Capitoline Hill, for a meeting with Mayor Gianni Alemanno.
Security will also be tight at the Capitoline, where the museums and surrounding park will be closed to the public starting at 2pm.
PROTESTS PLANNED AGAINST VISIT.
Protests against Gaddfafi's visit are planned in other parts of the capital, including one in reaction to the decision by Sardinia's University of Sassari to give the Libyan leader an honorary degree.
Gaddafi's last day in Rome will start at 10:30am with a meeting at the headquarters of Italy's industrial employers' association Confindustria, where chairman Emma Marcegaglia will introduce him to Italy's most important businessmen.
On Gaddafi's request, this will be followed by an encounter at Rome's music auditorium with 700 Italian women who are protagonists in the worlds of politics, business and culture.
Equal Opportunities Minister Mara Carfagna will represent the government and play host at the meeting, which will include Milan Mayor Letizia Moratti.
During the encounter, Gaddafi is expected to speak on the condition of women in his country, while Carfagna will make an address focusing on women in Africa.
Gaddafi will then go to the Chamber of Deputies to meet with Lower House Speaker Gianfranco Fini and take part in a round-table discussion with two former Italian foreign ministers, Fini and Massimo D'Alema.
No plans have yet been announced for Gaddafi to pay a courtesy call on Pope Benedict XVI in the Vatican, as many visiting leaders often do.
As customary, Gaddafi will stay in a giant Beduin tent, which has been set up in the city's vast Villa Doria Pamphli park, where the Libyan leader is expected to receive visitors.
Gaddafi is expected back in Italy next month to attend the Group of Eight nations summit in the quake-hit town of L'Aquila.
The Libyan leader will attend the part of the July 8-10 G8 summit devoted to Africa in his capacity as chairman of the 53-nation African Union and may meet United States President Barack Obama, diplomatic sources said.
A NEW ERA IN ITALY-LIBYA RELATIONS.
The friendship and cooperation treaty cemented relations between Italy and Libya and helped resolve issues dating back to Italy's colonial occupation of the North African country.
Italy will pay Libya $200 million over 25 years to fund various projects including the Italian construction of a coastal highway linking it with Egypt and Tunisia.
Rome will also clear Libya of landmines left from the colonial period.
The claims of 20,000 Italians expelled by Gaddafi from Libya in 1970 are also addressed in the accord.
The accord envisages that Libya puts into effect measures to help combat illegal immigration to Italy from Libyan shores, including joint patrols of the coast as well as satellite monitoring of its desert borders in the south.
The treaty also opened to the door to more investments in Italy by the oil-rich North African country.
Libya has already been busy buying stakes in leading Italian banks and is reported to be setting up a $500 million fund with the Italian merchant bank Mediobanca to invest in Italian companies, including Italy's two power giants, ENI and ENEL.
In the banking sector, Libya has a 4.6% stake in Italy's biggest bank Unicredit and before that held 2.58% of Capitalia, the former Banca di Roma which was incorporate into Unicredit.
Libya, which between 1977 and 1986 held as much as 15% of Fiat, bought back into the carmaker in 2002 picking a 2% stake through its Libyan Arab Foreign Investment Company (Lafico).
Lafico also has a 7.5% stake in the Turin Serie A soccer club Juventus, which like Fiat is controlled by the Agnelli family holding company.