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Italy denies PM visit to Libya strongman ahead of talks

Libya's key political players are to meet international leaders in Sicily (Getty)

Date of publication: 11 November, 2018

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Italy denied a meeting between the Italian Prime Minister and Khalifa Haftar reportedly held on Sunday.
Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar held talks with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte in Benghazi on Sunday, one of his officials said ahead of talks aimed at stabilising the war-torn North African country, although Rome later denied the visit.

Libya's key political players are to meet international leaders in Palermo, Sicily on Monday in the latest bid by major powers to kickstart a long-stalled political process and stage elections.

A senior official from Haftar's self-proclaimed Libyan National Army said that Conte travelled to Benghazi, 650 kilometres (400 miles) east of Libya's capital Tripoli, to discuss the "latest developments on the Palermo conference".

However, a source close to the Italian government categorically denied that Conte had been in Libya in recent days.

The source could not confirm whether the two had been in telephone contact.

Haftar, who visited Rome in late October, has confirmed he would take part in the conference, according to the Italian government.

But pro-Haftar Libyan media later reported that he would boycott the talks, without saying why.

Contacted by AFP, his staff declined to confirm or deny those reports.

Two rival administrations have emerged since 2011 - the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) and an eastern administration backed by Haftar.

They agreed in May to hold national elections on December 10.

But acknowledging the country's chaotic political situation, the UN on Thursday conceded elections will not be viable before at least the spring of 2019.



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