Italian Foreign Minister and Haftar meet in Benghazi

Haftar and Milanesi meet in Al-Rajma in eastern Benghazi (Photos: Social Media)

Italy’s Foreign Minister held talks with 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 Milanesi’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.

Italy, a key supporter of the UN-backed government of Fayez Al-Sirraj 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.

Haftar’s general command in Al-Rajma 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,” calling Italy an “enemy” to Libyans.

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