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13 November 2018 Libyan conference in Palermo; no signed agreement

On 12-13 November, leaders of Libya’s conflicting factions gathered in Palermo, Sicily, in a two-day conference hosted by the Italian government to discuss the situation in Libya. In a joint press conference, both Ghassan Salame, UN Special Envoy for Libya, and Giuseppe Conte, Italian Prime Minister, described the summit as a “success” and a “first step in the right direction”. Nevertheless, it ended with commitments but no binding signed agreement by warring factions to the UN-led plan envisaging elections in the first months of 2019. Salame added that even general Haftar, whose presence at the act was not assured until last minute, and who is normally reluctant to back UN’s initiatives, was committed to support the plan and expressed his intention to wait for the national conference and elections to take place. It remains rather unclear if parties found common ground in other strategic areas of negotiation during the event, which was not free of tensions, as Turkish delegation left the plenary meeting as they were reportedly disappointed at not being invited to join the informal meeting between Haftar and al-Serraj. Turkish Vice-President Fuat Oktay stated: “we cannot think of resolving the Libyan crisis by involving those who provoked it and excluding Turkey”. Italian Prime Minister Conte said his government is willing to assist the Libyan stabilisation process, financially but also training security and police forces, for example.