Bloomberg reports that an Italian attempt to broker an unscheduled meeting between Libya’s two warring leaders collapsed, when United Nations-backed Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj canceled a planned trip to Rome.
Sarraj was supposed to meet Premier Giuseppe Conte in the Italian capital late on Wednesday on the way back from meeting with European Union authorities in Brussels. But he changed his plans at the last minute after learning that his rival, military commander Khalifa Haftar, was already in the city, according to a senior official in the Libyan government
An encounter with Haftar would have put Sarraj in awkward position with his political allies in Tripoli, the Libyan capital, and in Turkey, which is backing his government militarily, the person said. Haftar has been aided by the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Russian mercenaries.
An Italian government official confirmed a meeting between Conte and al-Sarraj had been scheduled but didn’t give any reason for its cancellation. The Italian premier and Haftar met for three hours at Conte’s office in central Rome, the official said.
Meanwhile, in the meeting with France, Egypt, Cyprus and Greece in Cairo, Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio asked his counterparts to smooth out the tough stance towards Turks and the Libyan government of Serraj, and did not sign the final joint declaration.
Di Maio considered it too unbalanced and, in the meeting, and appealed for moderation.
Regarding what has been reported by some media about the suspension of the Italian bilateral mission in Libya, the Italian military authorities emphasized that “the activities agreed upon in agreement with the Libyan authorities continue regularly. There are no hypotheses withdrawal of Italian military personnel from Libya, where the contingent’s commitment is appreciated by the Libyan political authorities, the international community and the Libyan population “.