By Hadi Fornaji.
Tunis, 6 September 2017.
Fast on the heels of French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian who had talks with Libyan National Army leader Khalifa Hafter yesterday at the marshal’s Rajma headquarters, Italian interior minister Marco Minniti flew in to Benghazi this afternoon for his own discussions with him.
It is not only Minitti’s first visit to Hafter in Benghazi, he is also the most senior Italian official to do so. A month ago, though, Hafter was threatening to attack Italian navy vessels in Libyan waters following Rome’s deal with Presidency Council leader Faiez Serraj allowing them in.
Minniti’s visit follows his trip yesterday to Algiers where, in talks with his opposite Algerian number Noureddine Bedoui as well as with premier Ahmed Ouyahia and foreign affairs minister Abdelkader Messahel, Libya was one of the main topics of discussion. Both sides are said to have reconfirmed that only a political solution would work in Libya and that this had to be brought about by intensified dialogue involving all players.
Unlike yesterday, no details of today’s talks at Rajma have been released by either side so far.
The visit of Minniti, following that of Le Drian and of UK foreign minister Boris Johnson a fortnight ago, has led to intense speculation in Libya that the three are linked and that Rome, Paris and London are intent on forcing Hafter to accept some so far undisclosed plan on Libya.
The only common factor that links Johnson’s and Le Drian’s visits so far publicly stated, however, is the demand that the marshal stick to his Paris agreement in July with Presidency Council leader Faiez Serraj.