Muscat withdraws from Rome conference

Embattled Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has pulled out of a high-level Rome conference on Mediterranean affairs which he was scheduled to speak at

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has pulled out of a Rome conference he was due to speak at
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has pulled out of a Rome conference he was due to speak at

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has withdrawn at the last minute from participating in the Mediterranean Dialogues (MED) conference in Rome, an annual high-level gathering promoted by Italy’s foreign affairs ministry.

Muscat was scheduled to participate in a panel discussion on Friday afternoon on managing migration, which included Slovakia’s foreign minister Miro Cerar.

His withdrawal comes amid uncertainty on whether he will be attending the next European Council meeting in Brussels, given the unprecedented political crisis in Malta.

MED was launched in 2015, and bills itself as providing a “global hub for high-level dialogues on the broader Mediterranean, engaging prominent leaders of Mediterranean governments, business, civil society and academia.”

During his trip to Rome, the Prime Minister was due to meet Giuseppe Conte - who is also attending the MED conference - but the Italian premier on Thursday suddenly cancelled a business lunch with Muscat which was to be held today.

A scheduled meeting between with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Saturday is expected to go ahead, despite a group of University of Malta academics having urged the pope not to receive Muscat in light of the current political turmoil.

A petition urging people to write to Pope Francis, asking him not to meet Muscat, has also been doing the rounds on social media.

Muscat is currently facing frequent protests and widespread calls from all quarters for him to step down immediately, after shocking revelations tied to Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder, high-level government officials, corruption and money laundering came to light.

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