Libya’s Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj on Wednesday met with Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio in the capital Tripoli.

During the meeting, officials discussed recent developments in Libya and relations between the two friendly countries, according to a written statement issued by the Libyan government.

Secretary General of Italian Foreign Ministry Elisabetta Belloni, Italy’s Ambassador to Libya Giuseppe Buccini, Libyan Foreign Minister Mohamed Taha Siala and Libya’s Ambassador to the European Union Hafez Kaddour were also present at the meeting.

Both sides stressed the importance of returning to the political process in Libya and underlined that they reject negative foreign interventions in its internal affairs.

On Operation IRINI, Sarraj said the operation must be comprehensive and it should be conducted in the land, air and sea at the same time.

On March 31, EU foreign ministers approved the launch of Operation IRINI. The mission aims to operate in the air, sea and with satellites to ensure that all countries respect the ban on providing arms to the parties involved in the Libyan conflict.

EU forces will also watch any illegal oil exports, prevent human trafficking and contribute to the training of the local coast guard and navy as a complementary task.

Sarraj also thanked Italy for its contributions in the mine and explosive searches conducted in Libya’s civilian settlements.

Increasing coordination on the fight against irregular migration in the Mediterranean and the COVID-19 outbreak were also discussed during the meeting.

Libya has been torn by a civil war since the ouster of late ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. 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 warlord Khalifa Haftar’s forces.

The UN recognizes the Libyan government headed by Fayez al-Sarraj as the country’s legitimate authority as Tripoli battles Haftar’s militias.

The government launched Operation Peace Storm this March to counter Haftar’s attacks on Tripoli and recently liberated strategic locations including Tarhuna, his final stronghold in western Libya.

* Writing by Zehra Nur Duz

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