Laid important premises on Libya says Conte after conference

Palermo talks a success, Salamè

13 November, 18:12

    PALERMO - Premier Giuseppe Conte said after a Palermo conference on Libya that "we leave Palermo taking with us a feeling of confidence" for giving "a prospect of stabilisation" to Libya.
    He said "we mustn't delude ourselves, but important premises have been laid in this path".
    Conte shrugged off the fact that Turkey had abandoned the conference, saying this "does not change the positive climate".
    United Nations Libya envoy Ghassam Salamè thanked Italy and Conte for organising the Libya conference, "which has been a success".
    He said "Palermo remains a milestone" in the Libyan political process.
    Salamè said there had been "a serious commitment" towards stabilisation by all the Libyan parties.
    He said "the national conference to beheld in Libya in January will be facilitated by this conference in Palermo.
    "I received the clear commitment on the part of all the Libyan actors that will take part in it.
    "And that reassures me on the possible success" of the national conference envisaged by the UN's new road map, he said.
    Conte that Italy sought to take an inclusive approach with its conference on Libya in Palermo, with no attempt to impose solutions from outside. "We were keen to guarantee the full inclusiveness of all the parties who have the stabilization and future of Libya in their hearts. "Furthermore, we stressed from the start how crucial it was to have the main Libyan parties with us. We wanted to promote this initiative in full respect of the Libyan ownership of the process. The solutions cannot be imposed from abroad".
    Italy and the international community are to back the creation of a regular army in Libya as part of stabilisation efforts, Conte told the conference on the north African country.
    Stressing the need to overcome the current situation of warring armed groups, he said "the international community will be able to express concrete support for the creation and deployment of regular security forces". Conte added that Italy will do its part, also as regards "technical assistance, also on the level of training".
    He said "we will have to make sure that...the spirit of Palermo, as I like to call it, will not be exhausted here and now, but turn into a concrete commitment to bring forward the agenda with constancy and determination".
    There is a "good possibility" that a National Conference on Libya, the first step of a UN-backed roadmap for a renewed international effort to break a political stalemate in the country, will be held in January, diplomatic sources said Tuesday after a meeting in Palermo between Conte, Libyan Premier Fayez al Sarraj and Marshal Khalifa Haftar, whose Libyan National Army controls much of the east of the country.
    The meeting took place on the sidelines of the conference for Libya in Sicily, which was also attended by Russian Premier Dmitri Medvedev, Egyptian President Abdel Fatah el-Sisi, Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi, EU Council President Donald Tusk, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, Algerian Premier Ahmed Ouyahia and UN envoy for Libya Ghassan Salamè.
    A photo taken after the meeting showed Conte, Sarraj and Haftar shaking hands at Palermo's Villa Igiea.
    Security and human rights were at the center of the meeting Tuesday morning, diplomatic sources explained.
    Libya's stability, the same sources stressed, is key for Libya as well as for Italy, due to the risk of terrorists infiltrating the country through migrant routes.
    Speaking to a Libyan network in Palermo, Haftar said that "we are still at war and the country needs to control its borders".
    "We have borders with Tunisia, Algeria, Niger, Chad, Sudan and Egypt and illegal migration comes from all sides", Haftar added in the interview to 'Libya Hadath', stressing that the phenomenon makes it easier for militants and Islamic terrorists to cross into the country.
    Meanwhile, according to diplomatic sources who attended the meeting between Haftar and the head of the internationally recognized Libyan government Sarraj, the strongman of Cyrenaica reportedly said that "you don't change a horse while crossing a river".
    He was reportedly referring to the fact that Sarraj can lead the government until elections are held in the country, the same sources said.
    Libyan television Al Hadath later tweeted that Haftar left Palermo at the end of the meeting of leaders in Palermo, which took place on the sidelines of the conference on Libya, and "lasted over two hours", Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov was quoted as saying by Tass news agency. 

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