Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar, whose self-styled Libyan National Army dominates the country’s east, was in Rome Monday for talks ahead of next month’s Sicily conference on the conflict-hit North African nation.
Italy is trying to convince Haftar to support a crisis resolution plan drawn up by the UN’s envoy to Libya, Ghassan Salame, which will be presented to the Security Council a few days before the Sicily meet, Italian media reported.
Haftar arrived in the Italian capital on Sunday and met with Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte for a series of meetings ahead of the November 12 to 13 summit, which will be held in Palermo.
The Italian premier had also held separate meetings on Friday with the head of Libya’s UN-backed government, Fayez al-Sarraj, and the UN’s Salame.
Libya remains mired in chaos since the fall of dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011.
The country is 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 December 10 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 United States along with other European Union countries, notably Italy.
Haftar is set to meet Foreign Minister Enzo Moavero Milanesi on Monday.