Libya: Italian foreign minister meets Haftar in Benghazi

Italy, which supports the UN-backed government in Tripoli, holds talks with renegade general ahead of the planned polls.

    Foreign Minister Enzo Moavero Milanese's trip on Monday comes as part of Italy's attempts to stabilise Libya [Etienne Laurent/EPA-EFE]
    Foreign Minister Enzo Moavero Milanese's trip on Monday comes as part of Italy's attempts to stabilise Libya [Etienne Laurent/EPA-EFE]

    Italy's top diplomat held talks with General Khalifa Haftar, leader of the self-declared Libyan National Army (LNA) in a bid to strengthen ties, the Italian foreign ministry said.

    Foreign Minister Enzo Moavero Milanese's trip on Monday to the eastern city of Benghazi comes as part of Italy's wider attempt to stabilise Libya and move the legislative process forward.

    The two men "had a long and cordial conversation in Benghazi, relaunching Libya's close relationship with Italy in a climate of consolidated trust," the Italian foreign ministry said in a statement.

    {articleGUID}

    Italy, a key supporter of the UN-backed government of Fayez al-Sarraj in Tripoli, wants to "maintain an active dialogue with all well-intentioned actors in Libya," Milanesi said.

    "The current political path must be completed, in particular through free and fair elections, held under adequate security conditions," he added after France pushed for elections before the end of the year.

    The ministry said Haftar "expressed his appreciation for Italy's foreign policy, which Libya can't do without."

    "Marshal Haftar added that he was ready to contribute to actively support security, stabilisation and dialogue in the country, for the good of all Libyans," the ministry said, without elaborating.

    The LNA said in a statement that the two men discussed "the upcoming Libyan elections and ways of guaranteeing their transparency".

    Last Thursday however, Haftar criticised Italy, saying those "implementing their [Italy's] demands are a real problem", a veiled reference to the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA).

    {articleGUID}

    The GNA has been unable to form a functioning army or regular security forces, relying instead on autonomous militias to enforce security in Tripoli.

    Militias formed the backbone of the uprising that toppled long-time leader Muammar Gaddafi but the GNA has failed to bring the groups under control.

    Since then rival administrations - including one allied with Haftar and based in the remote east - and the militias have competed for authority and oil wealth in the north African country.

    Accused by his opponents of wanting to establish a new military dictatorship, Haftar refuses to recognise the authority of Sarraj's GNA.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Meet the man on a mission to take down Cambodia's timber tycoons and expose a rampant illegal cross-border trade.

    The priceless racism of the Duke of Edinburgh

    The priceless racism of the Duke of Edinburgh

    Prince Philip has done the world an extraordinary service by exposing the racist hypocrisy of "Western civilisation".

    China will determine the future of Venezuela

    China will determine the future of Venezuela

    There are a number of reasons why Beijing continues to back Maduro's government despite suffering financial losses.