Italy on Friday lauded Libya's premier Fayez al-Sarraj's announcement that he will hand over power by end-October to a new executive arising from inter-Libyan talks, calling the decision "an act of great responsibility".
"This is an act of great responsibility at a critical juncture in Libya's history. While fully respecting the Libyan people's sovereignty and its will, we hope that all sides responsibly support the path of dialogue leading to a negotiated solution," Italy's foreign ministry said in a statement.
In a brief televised speech on Wednesday, Sarraj said ongoing United Nations-brokered talks between the country's rival factions have led to a "new preparatory phase" to unify Libyan institutions and prepare for parliamentary and presidential elections.
"I announce to all my sincere wish to cede my functions to the next administration before the end of October at the latest," he declared from the capital, Tripoli.
Since 2014, war-ravaged Libya has had rival administrations in Tripoli and in the east of the country, which is controlled by warlord Khalifa Haftar and his Libyan National Army militia. Haftar also controls much of the south.
Italy "warmly welcomes" UN Security Council Resolution 2542 renewing the UNSMIL mission to Libya and "strongly supports" the mission's efforts to kick-start the process of inter-Libyan political dialogue, said the foreign ministry statement.
"We trust the international community will get behind this process in a spirit of good will, refraining from interference in Libya's internal affairs, in full respect of international law, starting with (upholding the UN) arms embargo," the statement concluded.