Italy’s Premier in Benghazi as Haftar frees 18 Italian fishermen
The Italian Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte, met Thursday in Benghazi with rebel Gen. Khalifa Haftar who has released 18 Italian fishermen detained for three months and charged with fishing illegally in Libyan waters.
Conte, accompanied by his Foreign Minister Luigi di Maio, discussed with the retired General the latest developments in Libya, including political, military and economic dialogues, Libya Observer reports, quoting Haftar’s media office.
The discussions did not touch on the release of the Italian fishermen but Conte twitted: “Welcome home”, posting a photo of the 18 fishermen, Libya Observer notes.
Italy has long sought the release of the 18 men that Haftar tried to use as bargain chip to secure the release of four Libyans held in custody in Italy over human trafficking charges.
Rome sought the help of the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord, GNA, for the release of the Italian detainees but the administration, rejected by Haftar, suggested Conte to turn to France, a country which backs the former Muammar Gaddafi’s top military commander.