The Italian government was forced to backtrack Wednesday when it announced that Premier Giuseppe Conte would meet with Libyan Prime Minister Fayez Serraj in Rome hours after Conte hosted Serraj’s rival, Gen. Khalifa Hifter.
Conte’s office confirmed the Serraj meeting Saturday and listed a subsequent briefing.
Hifter’s eastern-based forces have launched a fresh offensive against Sarraj’s U.N.-backed government in Tripoli, sparking a flurry of diplomatic efforts to try to contain the crisis in the North African nation.
The east-based government, backed by Hifter’s forces, is supported by the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, as well as France and Russia. The western, Tripoli-based government receives aid from Turkey, Qatar and Italy.
Serraj has welcomed the cease-fire, but a spokesman for Hifter’s self-styled Libyan Arab Armed Forces, Ahmed al-Mosmari, said the group’s battalions would still try to take control of Tripoli from what he called “terrorist groups.”
EU seeks Libya ceasefire, end to Turkish ‘interference’