U.N. envoy hopes Libya peace efforts can bear fruit soon

U.N. envoy hopes Libya peace efforts can bear fruit soon
UN envoy to Libya Ghassan Salama

The U.N. envoy for Libya voiced hope on Wednesday thatefforts to establish a peace dialogue between the country's two warring sidescould bear fruit within the next two weeks.

Ghassan Salame said on a visit to Rome that contacts hadbeen established and he hoped to see results before the Muslim fasting month ofRamadan begins in early May.

"I hope that the contacts we have established orre-established among the two belligerents can bear fruit before the holy monthof Ramadan," Salame told a news conference.

Commander Khalifa Haftar's Libyan National Army (LNA) isfighting forces backing Libya's U.N.-recognised government based in Tripoli.The LNA mounted an offensive on the capital three weeks ago but has since beenpushed back in some areas.

Salame, visiting Rome to enlist support from Libya's formercolonial power for a possible ceasefire, did not elaborate on the nature of thecontacts with the two warring groups.


Italy, whose southern islands lie very close to the North African country's coast, fears a mass exodus of refugees from Libya which is already a jumping-off point for boatloads of African migrants seeking to a new life in Europe.

Italian Foreign Minister Enzo Moavero, speaking alongsideSalame, said he had written to the European Union asking it to be prepared todeal with a possible flight of refugees.

He referred to a EU treaty which he said would oblige thebloc to help Italy if it were to be swamped with refugees from Libya. Under thetreaty, each member state would be required to receive a share of the refugeesarriving there.

Libya has been in a state of chaos since dictator MuammarGaddafi was toppled in 2011 with Western intervention and the latest flare-upthreatens to disrupt oil flows and leave a power vacuum that Islamist militantscould exploit.

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