Italy urges ‘simplified’ mediation in Libya talks

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Rome, 21 July (IANS/AKI) Italy wants the mediation process in talks between war-torn Libya’s rival factions to be “simplified” and for the United Nations special envoy to be given “all support” as the “sole mediator” in the negotiations, Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano said on Friday.

“There is a need to simplify the negotiations on Libya…to simplify the mediation system,” Alfano told reporters after a meeting here with his Saudi counterpart Adel al-Jubeir.

UN special envoy to Libya, Ghassan Salameh should have “all the power to act as sole mediator,” and achieve progress in the process of stabilising Libya, Alfano said.

Alfano’s comments came after Saudi-owned daily al-Hayat on Thursday cited sources as saying that French President Emmanuel Macron will meet the head of the UN-backed government in Tripoli, Fayez al-Seraj, and military commander Khalifa Haftar, a powerful figurehead in the east of Libya, in Paris on July 25.

Salameh and representatives of the British but not the Italian government have been invited to attend Tuesday’s meeting in Paris, which Italy learnt of from Libyan sources, Italian daily La Repubblica reported on Friday.

Rome has asked for further information from Paris on why Italy has apparently been excluded from the meeting despite being credited in recent months with coordinating diplomatic efforts on Libya by European Union countries and the US, La Repubblica said

Macron wants his country to play a bigger role in ending Libya’s factional conflict and said on July 13 that there would be concrete initiatives to try and end more than six years of turmoil since the 2011 ousting of late strongman Muammar Gaddafi.

The Paris meeting comes after Haftar and Seraj held talks in Abu Dhabi in May, their first in more than a year and a half. That encounter was aimed at consolidating diplomatic efforts by the United Arab Emirates, the UN and by neighbouring Egypt, according t al-Hayat.

The Seraj national unity government has sat in Tripoli for more than a year, but has struggled to reach agreement with eastern factions, including Haftar, who has gained ground militarily with support from Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.

Western governments including Italy’s say that Haftar must be be part of any solution to the conflict in the oil-producing North African state, where Islamist militants have gained a foothold and migrant smugglers have flourished in the absence of a strong central government.

–IANS/AKI

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