TRIPOLI

The closure of Libyan oil ports and measures to remove mines planted by warlord Khalifa Haftar’s forces dominated discussions between Libya’s prime minister and Italy’s foreign minister on Thursday.

Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj and Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio met in Tripoli to discuss recent developments in Libya and the two countries’ joint cooperation efforts, according to a Libyan government statement.

Security cooperation and efforts against illegal immigration, human trafficking, and smuggling were part of the topics discussed.

The two also spoke about “preparatory steps for the return of Italian companies to resume their activity in Libya, and Italy’s continued contribution to the demining process from areas that were under the control of the aggressor [pro-Haftar] militias,” the statement said.

The officials discussed the necessity of resuming oil production, which remains Libya’s main source of revenue.

On Sunday, Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) accused the UAE of instructing forces loyal to warlord Haftar to disrupt the country’s oil output and exports.

Libya, with the largest oil reserves in Africa, can produce 1.2 million barrels of crude oil per day.

However, production has fallen below 100,000 barrels a day due to interruptions by pro-Haftar militias over the past six months.

Since April 2019, Haftar’s illegitimate forces have launched attacks on Tripoli and other parts of northwestern Libya, resulting in thousands of deaths, including women and children.

The Libyan government, recognized by the UN as the country’s legitimate authority, has recently achieved significant victories, pushing Haftar’s forces out of Tripoli and the strategic city of Tarhouna.

The country’s new government was founded in 2015 under a UN-led agreement, but efforts for a long-term political settlement failed due to a military offensive by Haftar, who has been backed by France, Russian paramilitary group Wagner, the UAE, and Egypt.

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