Head of the Libyan National Army, General Khalifa Haftar, who is currently engaged in the second Libyan Civil War, reached the Italian city of Palermo to attend an international conference.
He arrived, Monday, midst the increasing rumours throughout the day that he might cancel his participation” due to the presence of Islamist and al-Qaeda-linked delegates”.
Haftar, held a brief meeting with the Italian Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte, skipped the ongoing dinner, where representatives from other Libyan factions and their foreign sponsors were present. Italian sources, said, he is expected to return for a bilateral meeting later in the evening.
Claudia Gazzini, a Libya expert at the International Crisis Group, earlier said, “General Haftar’s decision to participate or not in the Palermo conference is more about theatrics than blackmail”. Adding that “He is believed to have been present in Palermo during the day, and some of his advisers even participated in the morning sessions of the conference.”
During the day, in a series of working groups led by the UN mission to Libya (UNSMIL) and the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, delegates discussed both economic and security measures. Besides, the conference aimed to tackle the growing drifts that could potentially hamper the international relationships.
The next big event that will potentially determine, where Libya heads next, as the elections would be held next year. Therefore, it was also among the major topics of discussion in the conference. Contrarily, the talks at conference were majorly centric to the diplomatic war between France and Italy, however the French’s plan to hold Libya elections in December completely failed.
Besides, Italy’s primary focus was only around broadening the spectrum of the conference by inviting Libya armed militias and tribal leaders, which Haftar sees as direct threat to his military ambitions.
Rome also said that the conference is meant to support the UN-led initiative as presented by Ghassan Salame, the UN special Envoy to Libya. Correspondingly, while the key Western leaders did not attend the summit, Russia and the United States expressed their support for the UN plan.