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Italian foreign minister flies to Libya to meet militia leader Haftar

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Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di-Maio, on Thursday flew to Libya’s eastern city of Benghazi to meet military strongman Khalifa Haftar, one of the main players in an ongoing civil war.

The meeting was a follow up to Di-Maio’s earlier meeting with Haftar’s main rival, Fayez al-Serraj, in Tripoli with who leads an embattled UN-backed government.

Haftar’s forces have been engaged in an offensive since April to capture Tripoli and force the capitulation of Fayez al-Serraj’s administration.

“We continue to work for the respect of the arms embargo and to bring the parties to a permanent ceasefire.

“There is a risk of terrorism that we cannot underestimate, countries which are ignoring peace and continue to supply weapons to the parties on the ground.

“We cannot accept it,” Di-Maio said.

Foreign powers have played a key role in the escalation of the Libyan conflict. Haftar is backed by Russia, UAE, and Egypt, while al-Serraj has the support of Turkey.

In January, Germany hosted an international peace summit on Libya, but since then the arms embargo and a ceasefire had continued to be violated.

However, the EU countries had been struggling to play a meaningful role in the Libyan crisis, in spite of the interest in stabilising an oil and gas-rich country and a key transit route for Europe-bound migrants.

Edited By: Yahaya Isah/Emmanuel Yashim

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