Conte, Di Maio huddle on Libya, Iraq (3)

(ANSA) - Rome- Premier Giuseppe Conte and Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio met in Rome on Thursday for talks about the Libya crisis and the tension between the US and Iran linked to Iraq, sources said. Defence Minister Lorenzo Guerini also took part, over the phone.

The interior minister in the UN-recognised Libyan government of Premier Faeyez al-Sarraj, Fathi Bashagha, arrived in Rome from Tripoli Thursday to reportedly meet the US Ambassador to Tunisia, Donald Blome.

Sarraj himself was expected to come to Rome from Brussels Wednesday evening but instead flew straight back to Tripoli, reportedly irked after eastern Libyan strongman General Khalkifa Haftar had talks in the Italian capital with Conte. Haftar's forces have been engaged in an offensive on the Sarraj government in Tripoli since April.

Tripoli on Thursday agreed to a ceasefire for Saturday proposed by Turkey and Russia.

But Haftar rejected the ceasefire peace mediation bid by presidents Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin, the spokesman for his self-styled Libyan National Army, Ahmed al Mismari, told reporters.

Benghazi sources told ANSA "we thank Russia for its support but we cannot stop fighting terrorism".

Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said during a visit to Algiers on Thursday that "there is interference by foreign States" in conflict-hit Libya.

He added that "we must find a solution with the EU for the adoption of an arms embargo". "It us a national security problem that we are addressing with all our strength," he said. "We'll push for a date to be identified as soon as possible for the Berlin conference (on Libya). "We have to put all the parties around a table and find a solution".

Defence Minister Guerini said in a phone call on the Iran-Iraq-US situation with German counterpart Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer Thursday that "we must face the ongoing crisis with the necessary balance, in order to obtain a reopening of dialogue to lower tension. In greater merit, we'll have to weigh together the possibility of the reconfiguration of our commitment, also examining in depth the possibility of boosting the role of NATO and the European countries".

Relations between Iran and the US reached crisis point after Washington took out Tehran's top military commander, General Qassem Soleimani.

Iran retaliated with air strikes on US bass in Iraq, in which no one was hurt.

Source: ANSA News Agency