Africa, Europe

Italian premier discusses Libya with Haftar

Fayez al-Sarraj, head of Libya’s UN-recognized government, skips Italy and returns home after meeting officials in Brussels

Baris Seckin   | 09.01.2020
Italian premier discusses Libya with Haftar FILE PHOTO

ROME 

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Wednesday received eastern Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar, whose forces are attempting to overthrow Libya’s UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA).

Haftar met Conte in Rome and the two held discussions for a couple of hours, according to Italian media reports. However, Italian authorities are yet to issue a statement regarding the content of the meeting.

Fayez al-Sarraj, chairman of the Presidential Council of the GNA, did not stop in Rome following a trip to Brussels, where he met with European Parliament President David Sassoli, European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell and German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.

GNA Interior Minister Fethi Basaga later the same day said a ceasefire in Libya could only be possible if forces loyal to Haftar halt their offensive on the capital Tripoli and pull back to where they were before the attack.

Notably, Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio attended a Libya-themed meeting Wednesday in Egypt but did not take part in the press conference after the discussions or sign the joint press statement.

Since the ouster of late leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, two seats of power have emerged in Libya: one in eastern Libya supported mainly by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates and the other in Tripoli, which enjoys UN and international recognition.

Haftar's forces launched a military campaign in April last year to capture Tripoli from the internationally recognized government.

On Dec. 12, Haftar announced that he had ordered his militants to launch a "decisive battle" to capture the city.

*Writing by Ali Murat Alhas

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