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G7 foreign ministers are set to underline their backing for the UN-sponsored government in Libya headed by prime minister Fayez al-Sarraj, easing concerns about a major shift in US policy with regard to the North African country.
According to a section of the communiqué being discussed in Lucca, Italy, and seen by the Financial Times, the G7′s top diplomats will express “strong support” for Mr Sarraj’s government and “firm opposition to any attempt to disrupt the stabilisation process”.
Italian officials had been concerned that the Trump administration might perform a U-turn on Libya policy, shifting its support to the anti-Islamist military leader Khalifa Haftar, who is backed by Moscow and controls the eastern part of the country.
This in turn could have raised the chances of a partition of the country and a new flare-up in the civil war which has ravaged the nation since the fall of dictator Muammer Gaddafi in 2011 and turned it into a hub of human trafficking.
But the wording in the communiqué suggests that continuity with the Obama administration, which helped forge the political agreement that led to the formation of the Serraj government, had prevailed in Washington.
After Syria, which dominated the discussions in Lucca, Libya was considered the next most important item on the agenda of G7 foreign ministers, pushed as a priority by the Italian hosts. Concerns about Isis in the country have eased after a group of jihadist militants were mostly rooted out of the coastal city of Sirte, but there are still worries that it could become a stronghold again. In addition, the western coast of Libya has turned into the main hub for migration to Italy, with thousands of asylum seekers from the Middle East and Africa departing from there every month for the Sicilian coast. Libya is also a key source of oil and gas to Italy.