Italy will do everything it can to stop the partition of war-torn Libya, foreign minister Luigi Di Maio said on Monday, underlining the need to end the conflict through inclusive talks between the country's rival factions.
"Italy will do everything it can to prevention the partition of Libya," Di Maio said at a joint press conference in Rome with his German counterpart Heiko Maas.
"An inclusive inter-Libyan process is needed. The Libyan people have suffered too much and deserve to be the architect of their own destiny," Di Maio added.
Italy, Germany and the United States on Monday called for a cease-fire and de-escalation of tensions in Libya following Egypt's warning at the weekend that it would intervene militarily if Turkish-backed forces allied with the internationally recognised government in Tripoli attack the strategic coastal city of Sirte.
Recapturing Sirte could allow the weak Tripoli-based government and its forces to regain control of oil fields and facilities in southern Libya that eastern warlord Khalifa Haftar seized earlier this year as part of his 14-month assault on Tripoli that collapsed in early June.
Libya's civil war began in 2014 and the oil-rich former Italian colony has been in chaos since the Nato-backed ouster of late dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. The country is split between rival administrations in the east and the west, each aided by a myriad of armed groups and supported by foreign governments.
The United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Russia back Haftar's forces while the UN-backed Tripoli government and allied militias are aided by Qatar and Turkey.