Conte likely to meet Haftar, Sarraj in Brussels

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Rome, Dec 13 (IANS/AKI) Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte will likely meet Libya’s powerful eastern military commander Khalifa Haftar and its UN-backed premier Fayez al-Sarraj on Thursday in Brussels, Adnkronos has learned from unnamed Libyan sources.

The talks are expected to take place on the sidelines of a European Union summit of heads of state and government, according to the sources.

In an interview on Sunday with Italian broadcaster Rai’s Tg2 news bulletin, Conte said he expected to meet Haftar and Sarraj “during the coming week” but his office has not confirmed confirmed the encounter.

Political rivals Haftar and Sarraj last month held talks in Palermo with Conte on the sidelines of an international conference aimed at pushing a new UN plan to unite chaos-wracked Libya’s institutions and oversee an electoral process starting in the Spring.

Despite stark divisions that emerged among key players in the turmoil-wracked North African nation at the November 12-13 meeting in Palermo, the UN and Italy hailed the conference as a success.

All parties at the Palermo conference had agreed to a UN conference planned for early 2019 to prepare for elections to end the crisis, Conte and UN envoy to Libya Ghassan Salame said after the meeting.

Libya has had rival governments in Tripoli and the east and has been riven by fighting among rival factions backed by a myriad of armed groups since the Nato-backed ouster of late dictator Muammar Gaddafi in a 2011 civil war.

Haftar, a general who leads a self-styled army, has repeatedly threatened to attack Tripoli and overrun the capital, where about 30 per cent of Libyans live and where the UN-backed government is based.



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