The chief diplomat of Italy met with representatives of the Arab League and Egypt on Sunday in Cairo to discuss delicate bilateral issues as well as regional security.
The cases of Giulio Regeni, an Italian graduate student who was abducted, tortured, and killed in Cairo in 2016, and Patrick George Zaki, an Egyptian activist who was studying in Bologna and had been held for nearly two years, were brought up with the Egyptian president, according to Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani.
“I asked for and received assurances for strong cooperation on the Regeni and Zaki cases,” Tajani wrote on Twitter. Later in the day, he told a joint news conference with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry that Cairo “is ready to remove roadblocks” to resolve both cases. He did not offer further details.
Tajani said his meeting with President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi also covered energy security and economic cooperation in the Mediterranean, but focused “above all” on political instability in Libya and the efforts to stop “irregular immigration” from that country.
The Italian foreign minister also met with Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul-Gheit.
The Regeni case roiled Cairo’s relations with Rome, with Regeni’s family and Italian authorities accusing Egyptian security forces of torturing and killing him. Egypt’s security services have denied any involvement in Regeni’s abduction or death.
Regeni, 28, was a Cambridge University doctoral student researching labor movements in Egypt when he was abducted on Jan. 25, 2016. His body was found along a roadside several days later bearing marks of extensive torture, of the kind that activists and rights groups say is widespread within Egyptian detention facilities.
Zaki, meanwhile, was released in December 2021 pending his trial on charges of spreading false news about Egypt, both domestically and abroad and was unable to travel since his release.
Zaki’s detention and trial became front page news in Italy and sparked a wave of student protests there. For many Italians, his detention was reminiscent of Regeni’s death.
Tajani said his trip to Egypt and before that Tunisia, and that of Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni to Algeria were part of the Italy’s efforts to boost its energy ties in the region and most importantly to stem the flow of migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea to Europe.