MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia’s defense minister Sergei Shoigu met Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar in Moscow on Wednesday, Russian media reported, signaling Kremlin support ahead of a conference aimed at settling the north African country’s years of strife.
Russia’s military has long shown backing for the powerful Libyan commander, who dominates eastern Libya. He has visited Russia before, and last year the Russian defense ministry hosted him aboard its sole aircraft carrier.
Shoigu and Haftar discussed the Libyan crisis and the security situation in the Middle East and North Africa, Russian news agencies said, citing a defense ministry statement, without giving details.
Italy will host an international conference on Libya on Nov. 12 and 13, which Haftar will attend, Italy has said. Haftar’s office has not confirmed his attendance yet.
Haftar’s office said the meeting in Moscow had covered ways to end Libya’s crisis and the fight against terrorism.
Russia is expected to send high-level representatives to the Palermo meeting.
Reporting by Maria Tsvetkova and Ayman al-Warfalli in Benghazi, Editing by William Maclean.