Libyan peace requires 'solid' entente between France and Italy

Libyan peace requires 'solid' entente between France and Italy

France and Italy are in close contact over the escalating Libyan conflict, and progress towards a solution can only be achieved with "a solid understanding" between the two countries, French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Friday.

"We need to work together rapidly because the situation could well deteriorate," Le Drian told reporters in Rome after talks in Rome on Libya with his Italian counterpart Enzo Moavero Milanesi.

During their meeting, Moavero said Italy and France agreed on the need for a rapid humanitarian truce and ceasefire in the deadly battle for the control of Tripoli that has raged since 5 April. The conflict pits eastern strongman Khalifa Haftar's self-styled Libyan National Army and forces loyal to the internationally recognised government in Tripoli.

"The convergence of viewpoints during our talks shows that we have overcome any past differences," Le Drian said, calling for Libyan dialogue to resume as soon as a ceasefire was in place.

A national conference due to be held in southwest Libya from 14-16 April to pave the way for elections later this year under a United Nations peace plan was cancelled after Haftar launched his assault on Tripoli.

France's support for Haftar has displeased Libya's former colonial ruler Italy, which supports the UN-backed unity government and a UN-facilitated peace process to stabilise the chaos-stricken North African country.