ROME/NEW YORK, FEBRUARY 9 – Italy is studying the possibility to open a consular office in Tobruk while in New York the new UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres plans to appoint former Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad as UN envoy to Libya, tasked with brokering talks on changes to a faltering political deal, in place of Martin Kobler who has been UN envoy since November 2015 and only yesterday briefed the UN Security Council on the situation in the country.
Fayyad, 65, was prime minister of the Palestinian Authority from 2007 to 2013 and also served as finance minister twice. The appointment comes amid diplomatic negotiations over changes to a UN-brokered political deal that led to the formation of Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj’s unity government. Guterres has given the council two days to raise objections to the appointment, but diplomats said they did not expect opposition to the choice of Fayyad.
Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs Angelino Alfano said that the idea of opening the consulate will alleviate the work load of the newly re-activated Embassy in Tripoli”. Italy had a consulate in Bengasi, but that closed in 2013 after an attack to the then Consul General Guido de Sanctis. Kobler had given the green light to the initiative arguing that it would have helped to involve General Khalifa Haftar in the stabilization of the country: “We have been the first to recognize a role to General Haftar”, Alfano said: “We intend to move on the same road. And we intend to work also with the East”.
Libya was also on the agenda of today’s talks in London between Prime ministers Paolo Gentiloni and Theresa May. Gentiloni stressed that the stabilization of Libya is “fundamentally important for Italy as well as for Europe to contain migrations and the risk of terrorism”. (@OnuItalia)