Strongman Haftar in Rome to discuss Libya conflict

Strongman Haftar in Rome to discuss Libya conflict
The head of the self-styled Libyan National Army Khalifa Haftar is in Rome on Monday for talks on the war-torn North African country.
2 min read
29 October, 2018
Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar at a military parade in Benghazi [Getty]
Libya's strongman Khalifa Haftar was in Rome on Monday for talks ahead of next month's conference on the war-torn North African nation.

Italy is trying to convince Haftar, whose self-styled Libyan National Army dominates the country's east, to support a crisis resolution plan drawn up by the UN's envoy to Libya.

Haftar arrived in the Italian capital Sunday and met with Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte for a series of meetings ahead of the 12 to 13 November summit, which will be held in Palermo.

The Italian premier had also held separate meetings Friday with the head of Libya's UN-backed government, Fayez al-Sarraj, and the UN's Salame.

Libya remains mired in chaos since a 2011 NATO-backed uprising toppled longtime dictator Moammar Gaddafi.

The country is currently divided between the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), based in Tripoli, and a rival Haftar-supported administration in the east.

The UN envoy was quoted by Conte's office as saying he believes the Palermo conference could be "a key signal of support by the international community to the political process, which is in a particularly important phase".

Four key leaders from Libya agreed at a conference in Paris in May to hold landmark polls on 10 December as part of a French-led plan to stabilise the crisis-hit country despite ongoing violence.

But France has faced opposition to the election timetable from the US along with other EU countries, notably Italy.

Italy is also a strong supporter al-Sarraj's UN-backed government, whereas France supports Haftar.

Italy is keen to end the conflict in Libya, which has seen people smugglers establish bases in the conflict-ridden country.

The far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has called for these routes to be "blocked off" by North African states, which have been the launch pads for migration to Italy.

Haftar is set to meet Foreign Minister Enzo Moavero Milanesi on Monday.

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