Rome: Libyan rebel leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil was to meet Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi on Tuesday on a visit to Libya's former colonial ruler Muammar Gaddafi.

Jalil, a former justice minister who was critical of abuses done under Gaddafi regime, was expected in Rome after a visit to Qatar on his first foreign tour in his new role of conflict mediation, as fighting between rebels and regime loyalists’ rages in Libya.

The Transitional National Council chief's visit to Rome will kick off with talks with Foreign Minister Franco Frattini, to be followed by meetings with President Giorgio Napolitano and Berlusconi.
Italian policy on Libya has seen some twists and turns in recent weeks, with growing opposition to the Libyan regime despite initially friendly ties between Berlusconi and Gaddafi that have been widely criticized.

Italy is Libya's top trade partner and the two countries signed a treaty in 2008 that opened the way for billion dollars trade opportunity by investments in each other's economies, many of which have now been suspended.

Italian energy major ENI is also the top foreign oil producer in Libya.

A foreign ministry spokesman, Maurizio Massari said, "Italy is extremely worried about the situation for civilians in Libya, particularly in Misrata, a city that has been under siege from Gaddafi's forces for almost two months.”

He also said that Gaddafi's exile was a desirable solution.