Ambassador to Libya still in Rome 'for security reasons'

'But embassy open', Tripoli airport closed after rockets

13 September, 12:05

    (ANSAmed) - CAIRO, SEPTEMBER 12 - Italian ambassador to Libya Giuseppe Perrone is remaining in Rome due to dangerous tensions sparked by street protests fostered by ''misunderstandings'' created by an interview that the ambassador had ''decidedly on his own to give''. The circumstance merged during statements before the foreign affairs committees of the two houses of parliament by Foreign Minister Enzo Moavero Milanesi, who took the occasion to announce that the international conference on Libya organized by Italy in the first half of November will be held in Sicily. At the conference, Italy will try to stabilize a situation that is ever more precarious, as shown in recent hours by rockets shot at the Mitiga airport.

    The airport is the only functioning one in Tripoli and has now been closed again.

    In early August, Perrone had underscored in an interview in Arabic with the Libya's Channel television the importance of ''preparing well for the elections'' with a ''clear constitutional'' basis and ''adequate security conditions''. Basically, not before the end of the year, unlike what France and the forces near Field Marshall Khalifa Haftar want. These statements sparked disorder in Libya, with several Italian flags set on fire and other anti-Italian protests in the eastern part of the country. At least two Tobruk institutions that the Italian foreign minister met with in Benghazi three days ago in the eastern part of the country controlled by Haftar made moves against Perrone as well: the foreign affairs committee of the Libyan House of Representatives had designated Perrone 'persona non grata' and the foreign ministry of the 'provisional government' (not recognized by the UN) had accused him of interfering in Libyan affairs. Perrone has been in Italy since mid-August on holiday.

    On Wednesday, Moavero informed the parliament of the ministry's decision to keep the ambassador in Italy longer ''for security reasons''.

    Howevere, he noted, the Italian embassy in Tripoli is ''open and operating''. The issue of the election date in Libya is at the center of heated debate. On Tuesday, France reiterated the hope that elections would be held by the end of the year, on December 10, in line with French president Emmanuel Macron's plan.

    Moavero reiterated on Wednesday that Italy disagrees with the stance taken by France and that ''we are not looking to argue with France but we do not want to be subjected to orders, either''.

    The comment was a general one but implicitly included the migration issue in addition to that of Libya. ''There is the idea of working together,'' the minister said.

    Sicily, the location chosen for the conference on Libya, is in any case ''a land that aims to symbolize the holding out of a hand across the Mediterranean'', he added.

    Meanwhile, meetings continue in Tripoli to keep the ceasefire agreed between militias on September 4 in place, after it was threatened by belligerent declarations by the rebel faction that sparked the clashes - the Seventh Brigade - and rocket launching on Mitiga, responsibility for which was claimed by a smaller group, 'The Tripoli Youth Movement', in a statement that has puzzled analysts. (ANSAmed).

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