Serraj denies inviting Italian warships into Libyan waters

By Libya Herald reporters.

Serraj and Gentiloni in Rome yesterday (Photo: Itailan government)

Serraj and Gentiloni in Rome yesterday (Photo: Itailan gov)

Tripoli, 27 July 2017:

Presidency Council (PC) head Faiez Serraj has denied that he has invited Italian warships to enter Libyan territorial waters in pursuit of people-traffickers.

Serraj saw Italian premier Paolo Gentiloni on his way back from his Paris talks with armed forces commander-in-chef Khalifa Hafter hosted by French president Emmanuel Macron. After their meeting Gentiloni was reported as saying that Serraj had authorised Italian naval vessels to sail into Libyan waters.

Today Serraj put out a statement saying he had done no such thing. What had been agreed in Rome was for the Italians to continue with their training and equipping of the Libyan Coastguard so that this force could save the lives of migrants and confront the criminal organisations behind illegal immigration and smuggling. They had also agreed to help Libya secure its land borders.

Criticising the published reports, Serraj said that Libyan sovereignty was a red line that could not be crossed. He said that Libyan territory would be defended. He had not invited Libyan naval forces to enter Libyan territory, he said, nor had he invited the presence of fighter planes and other Italian aircraft.

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