Italy will host an international conference on Libya in Sicily next month to bring together opposing forces and forge dialogue in the warring nation, Foreign Minister Enzo Moavero Milanesi said.
The meeting will be held in the Sicilian capital Palermo on November 12 and 13, with key players from both Libya and abroad expected, Moavero told parliament.
“We want to find a common solution, even though there will be different opinions around the table,” Moavero said, adding the goal was to help restore peace in Libya and facilitate an inclusive political process ahead of possible elections.
Italy is tussling with neighbouring France over how best to deal with Libya, racked by violence following the NATO-backed uprising in 2011 that overthrew strongman Mummar Gaddafi.
Libyan leaders announced at a conference in Paris in May they would hold elections on December 10 as part of a French drive to stabilise the North African country.
Italy bristled at the move to fix a date in the face of continued clashes between factions and few Western diplomats believe the vote can go ahead in the current climate.
Moavero did not expect the Palermo meeting to focus on specific dates. “No deadlines will be imposed or tasks set for the Libyans,” he said.
US President Donald Trump has given his blessing to the Italian conference and Moavero would fly to Moscow to discuss the Libyan situation with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
Rome expects high-level delegations from Libya’s neighbours as well as from the Gulf, Turkey and the European Union.
It is still not clear if Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar, a dominant figure in the east of the country, will show up in Sicily.
Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) last year seized the country’s second largest city, Benghazi, expelling Islamist and other fighters.
In an interview with Reuters, Haftar said he still supported plans for national elections in Libya in December but accused other players of not fulfilling promises to pave the way for a ballot.
Italy has thrown its weight behind Haftar’s main rival, Prime Minister Fayez Seraj, who leads a UN-brokered transitional government based in Tripoli.
Moavero met Haftar last month and said the commander confirmed “his interest in the conference”.