Turkish vice president withdraws from Italy's meeting on Libya

Conte flanked by al Serraj and Haftar

Al-Sarraj had hoped elections would be held in December, following discussions at a summit earlier this year in France, but this plan was abandoned due to ongoing violence and chaos in parts of Libya.

In September, Italy's defence minister and parliamentary speaker both partly blamed France for Libya's security crisis, which continues to simmer seven years after the NATO-backed uprising toppled Gaddafi.

"The General Command of the Libyan Arab Armed Forces denies local and worldwide reports about the commander, Gen. Khalifa Haftar, participating in the conference held in the Italian city of Palermo on Libya", the army's information office said in a statement. It also seeks to bring to the table the warring factions and get them behind a new United Nations plan for a national conference and elections.

On the sidelines of the conference for the first time in the last five months, met the leaders of the warring parties: Faiz Sarraj, the head sitting in Tripoli of a national unity Government, and the commander of the Libyan national army, field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, which controls the East of the country.

Libya could hold its planned elections next year, Italian Foreign Affairs Minister Enzo Moavero said on Wednesday.

"You don't need to change horse in the middle of crossing the river", the official quotes Haftar as saying.

Eastern Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar joined several other key national and global players for talks on the sidelines of the Palermo conference aimed at stabilising the crisis-stricken North African nation.

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Italy, the former colonial power which has large oil and gas interests in Libya and has been working to halt people-smuggling from the Libyan coast across the Mediterranean, had called the summit in an effort to reconcile Libya's competing factions.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, a strong supporter of Haftar, was in Palermo for the conference, along with officials from Western countries, Arab states and Russian Federation.

Serraj heads the government in the west, which has struggled to exert control beyond the capital Tripoli.

Although he met Serraj, Haftar poured scorn on the summit.

But diplomatic wrangling between Italy and France also hangs over this summit.

There were no announcements of diplomatic breakthroughs, but Serraj's spokesman said on Twitter that the prime minister was committed to a United Nations road map to hold an election in the spring after a constitutional framework had been put in place.

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