FM participates in global conference on Libya, meets officials

Haftar who leads a self-styled Libyan National Army has repeatedly threatened to attack Tripoli

Haftar who leads a self-styled Libyan National Army has repeatedly threatened to attack Tripoli

Turkey walked out after eastern Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar joined a meeting on the conference's sidelines with his UN-backed rival Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj and other leaders, but not with Turkish representatives.

The conference discussed a number of political, economic and security issues to restore security and stability in Libya.

The accord reached at Tuesday's meeting held on the sidelines of an global conference in Palermo on stabilizing Libya "is a major step forward" which "has surpassed the Italian government's expectations", according to sources.

Eastern Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar joined several other key national and global players for talks on the sidelines of the Palermo conference aimed at stabilising the crisis-stricken North African nation. Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, among the participants, had recently reiterated Cairo's call for lifting the global arms embargo against Libya. The May conference produced a commitment to hold the December election but that has now been indefinitely postponed. Although the factions had previously agreed to proceed with elections before December under the auspices of an global conference hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron, progress quickly stalled amid accusations of hastiness and the exclusion of some factions from the process.

For rights advocates, the conference posed another kind of opportunity: To draw attention to the plight of migrants trapped in Libya, now that the almost nightly launching of human traffickers' boats from Libya's coasts has sharply dropped off as Italy and Malta have closed their ports to private rescue groups' vessels. Last week, the UN's Special Envoy for Libya, Ghassan Salame, confirmed that elections were likely to be postponed until spring 2019.

The conference in the Sicilian capital of Palermo began Monday with a private dinner hosted by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte before the plenary sessions Tuesday.

"Haftar already succeeding in making the Palermo Conference about the importance of his role in any potential agreement in Libya going forward and reinforcing his position as the key actor in the Libyan crisis", said Mohamed ElJarh, CEO of research and consulting firm Libya Outlook. Rome vehemently denied the allegations.

Seven years after the fall of long-time dictator Muammar Gaddafi, Libya now has two governments. Russia, France, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) support Haftar, who is an anti-Islamist military man.

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