Italian PM to seek Russian help to bring Libyan strongman to Sicily summit

Italian PM to seek Russian help to bring Libyan strongman to Sicily summit

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte will meet Vladimir Putin in Moscow today for discussions that are likely to focus on

libya russia italy

Photo: Reuters/Maxim Shemetov

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte will meet Vladimir Putin in Moscow today for discussions that are likely to focus on the security situation in Libya.

Mr Conte’s populist government is seeking political stability in war-torn Libya—seen as crucial to reducing the number of refugees crossing the Mediterranean from the north African coastline towards Italy. Libya remains politically divided between the UN-backed transitional government in Tripoli and the Russian-backed rival administration in Tobruk under General Khalifa Haftar.

While Rome officially supports the Tripoli-based government, it has sought to attract Mr Haftar to talks in Sicily on November 12-13 in a bid to negotiate a basis for an agreed roadmap to long-term stability.

Given Russia’s influence over Tobruk, Conte is likely to request Putin’s help to bring Haftar to the negotiating table as well as support for Italy’s Libya talks. Italian efforts will likely focus on finding consensus between all parties—no faction recognises the other’s legitimacy— rather than rush elections by December, as France has pushed. If Paris’ Libya plans are sidelined because of this trip, Rome will be pleased.

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