Blinken to Arrive in Italy Sunday for Meetings With Top Leaders, Pope

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s multination trip to Europe takes him to Italy Sunday for several days of meetings with top Italian leaders, Pope Francis, Group of 20 leaders and ministerial-level officials.After being warmly welcomed in France and Germany, Blinken arrives in Rome from Paris on Sunday, when he meets with the Italian foreign minister, United Nations food security agencies and U.S. embassy officials.Blinken and Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio will co-chair a meeting of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS in Rome on Monday, when he also meets with Prime Minister Mario Draghi and President Sergio Mattarella to discuss the Syrian civil war and the humanitarian needs in that country.The State Department says Syria remains a big concern, with tens of thousands of women and children in humanitarian camps subject to security issues as members of the Islamic State terrorist group work to exploit the camps to recruit the next generation of fighters. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken leaves as French President Emmanuel Macron, center, gestures toward French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves le Drian, left, at the Elysee palace, June 25, 2021.The top U.S. diplomat arrived in France from Germany, where on Thursday he and German leaders said the U.S. and Germany were partnering to counter Holocaust denial and antisemitism, an effort the secretary of state said will “ensure that current and future generations learn about the Holocaust and also learn from it.”  Speaking at the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin, Blinken said Holocaust denial and antisemitism go hand in hand with homophobia, xenophobia, racism and other forms of discrimination, and have become “a rallying cry for those who seek to tear down our democracies.” The top U.S. diplomat also met Thursday with Libya’s interim Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dabaiba on the heels of an international conference focused on supporting Libya’s transition to a permanent, stable government.  Wednesday’s conference, hosted by Germany and the United Nations, included officials from 17 countries and reinforced support for national elections in Libya scheduled for late December.  Libya has experienced political instability since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that ousted longtime ruler Moammar Gadhafi from power. Rival governments operated in separate parts of the country for years before a cease-fire deal in October that included a demand for all foreign fighters and mercenaries to leave Libya within 90 days.  VOA’s Cindy Saine contributed to this report. This report also includes information from Reuters and AFP.

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