GNA Envoy to Rome Lauds Release of Italian Fishermen; Dendias Says Greece Played Mediating Role – Al Marsad

The Libyan Ambassador to Italy, Omar al-Tarhuni, who is affiliated with the Presidential Council of the Government of National Accord (GNA), expressed his happiness at the release of the 18 Sicilian fishermen in Libya. Greek Foreign Minister, Nikos Dendias said Greece welcomed the release of the fisherman and took on a mediating role and was in close contact with both sides over the past three months in order to ensure a positive outcome of this humanitarian issue.

(Libya, 21 December 2020) – In statements to the AKI news agency, Omar al-Tarhuni emphasized that the GNA’s Presidential Council stands with the humanitarian side and welcomes the release of the Italian fishermen. The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) also welcomed the release of the 18 fishermen who spent 107 days in captivity in Benghazi.

Ambassador Omar al-Tarhuni highlighted the efforts exerted by the Embassy to secure the release of Libyan footballers jailed in Italy for alleged human trafficking, noting that their case is pending before the court.

According to AKI, the Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said that that Commander-in-Chief of the Libyan National Army (LNA), Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, had asked for the release of four Libyans convicted of human trafficking in Italy, in exchange for the release of Sicilian fishermen who were being held in Benghazi.

“At first Haftar asked for this, and this was not possible, and then we came to a more moderate position by asking him to resume relations,” Di Maio said, according to a statement to Italian television on Sunday evening, quoted by the Italian news agency Aki.

This was followed last Thursday with the release of all 18 Itlaian fishermen, after a brief visit by Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte and Di Maio to Benghazi, where they met with Marshal Khalifa Haftar.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio meeting Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar at al-Rajma.

GREECE ACTED AS MEDIATOR

Greece welcomed the move and that upon instructions of Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Dendias, the Foreign Ministry took on a mediating role and was in close contact with both sides over the past three months in order to ensure a positive outcome of this humanitarian issue.

The statement said that Dendias had “sent a letter to Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, stressing, among other things, that Greece wishes to see the establishment—with the assistance of the other states in the wider neighbourhood—of a region of peace and stability, based on good neighbourly relations and full respect for International Law.’

It also stressed that “countries such as Greece, Italy and Libya, as neighbouring countries with historical ties, must set the example of harmonious coexistence in a turbulent region. In this context, he concluded, disputes should be resolved peacefully, through dialogue.”

Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs Luigi Di Maio sent a message to his Greek counterpart “expressing his appreciation for Greece’s generous support”.

© AlMarsad English (2020)