Libya's new premier Abdul Hamid Dbeibah urged Italian companies to invest in his country, especially in the energy and infrastructure sectors, saying it wants to offer them "a home from home".
"I intend to reopen soon to investors and Italian companies. I would like them to feel they have a home from home," Dbeibah told Italian daily Corriere della Sera in an interview on Tuesday.
"With Draghi, we will look at which key Italian companies we want to prioritise," Dbeibah said, referring to a visit to Tripoli by Italy's prime minister Mario Draghi slated for early April.
Libya's unified national government is negotiating a deal worth over a billion dollars with Italian construction and civil engineering group Salini Impregilo, Dbeibah noted.
The annual value of Italo-Libyan business will soon top 16 billion dollars, he said.
"But besides large groups, I would really like to see many small Italian companies return," he said
War-ravaged Libya urgently needs to strengthen its energy industry and national infrastructure, from its electricity grid to its health sector and roads, Dbeibah, underlined.
Italian major Eni, "a key partner for oil and gas" will explore new wells in Libya's eastern Cyrenaica region but the government also wants it to invest in the environment and in improving hospitals, he said.
Dbeibah said the security situation in Libya has improved over the past five months and said he hoped Italy's consulate in the eastern city of Benghazi would reopen "within three months".
"Bengasi is a key city, that is going through a difficult period," Debeibah stated.
The port city is controlled by militias affiliated with warlord Khalifa Haftar and growing friction between rival factions in eastern Libya is seen by some observers as a major challenge facing the Debeibah government.