President Donald Trump told reporters that he does not anticipate the United States having a role in the stabilization of Libya, during a joint press conference with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni at the White House Thursday.
Stabilization in Libya is a top priority for Italy, especially following a recent agreement to stop the flow of Libyan migrants into their country.
“We need a stable and unified Libya,” Gentiloni said, adding that “the U.S.'s role in [stabilizing the country] is very critical.”
Right after Gentiloni's answer, Trump countered the prime minister's assessment with his own response:
“I do not see a role in Libya. I think the United States, right now, has enough roles. We're in a role everywhere. [...] I do see a role in getting rid of ISIS.”
Further, the president added:
“We are effectively ridding the world of ISIS. I see that as a primary role and that's what we're going to do, whether it's in Iraq or in Libya, or anywhere else. And that role will come to an end at a certain point.”
Trump has gone back and forth on the issue of the United States's engagement with Libya several times, sometimes suggesting that a “surgical strike” by Americans on Gaddafi would be the best course of action. Then, in 2016, he said removing Gaddafi was a mistake, and that Libya would “100%” be better off with him still leading the country.
And while Trump has said he has “never been for strong intervention” in the country, he has also asked campaign crowds why the United States hasn't been “bombing the hell out of” Libya and other countries in the throes of conflict with ISIS.
However, Italy's desire to get the United States to back the anti-ISIS, U.N.-supported Government of National Accord (GNA) faction in Libya could serve both Italy and the United States's interests in the country.
After the Italian prime minister's visit to Washington, the two world leaders are expected to reunite in Italy for the G7 summit in late May.