United Nations special envoy to Libya Ghassan Salame arrived on Thursday in the country’s east for unannounced talks with Libyan National Army (LNA) commander Khalifa Haftar.
The development emerged as efforts are underway to bring together all rival parties to attend next month’s Italy-hosted conference aimed at resolving the Libyan crisis.
LNA spokesman Ahmed al-Mismari said that Haftar has yet to decide on whether he will attend the Palermo talks.
Italian Foreign Minister Enzo Milanesi declared that Haftar had on more than one occasion expressed his readiness to attend conference.
Italy’s AKI news agency expected the LNA chief to pay a visit to Rome next week to meet with local officials over his participation in the Palermo conference.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, meanwhile, announced that he had received Russian President Vladimir Putin’s support to hold the conference.
Moscow will contribute to the Palermo meeting, which will be held on November 12 and 13, he revealed.
“Russia is a main player in the effort to establish stability in Libya,” he stated.
Separately, the LNA was preparing to launch its operation to rid southern Libya of “Chadian gangs” that had set up base in the town of Umm al-Araneb.
Mismari described as “very good” the LNA’s preparations, saying it enjoyed “excellent” air support.
He predicted, however, that the battle for the South will be long given the vast territory and open borders with Libya’s neighbors.
Moreover, the Chadian gangs and mercenaries had united their ranks under a single command in order to confront the LNA assault, he explained.