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Is Putin getting serious on Libya?

As Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev led the Russian delegation to the Palermo conference on Libya, Moscow spoke of its economic interests in the country but, most importantly, was sending a strong political message to warring factions.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev attends the second day of the international conference on Libya in Palermo, Italy, November 13, 2018. REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane - RC14C7724000

MOSCOW — Over the last few weeks, apart from the usual Syrian track, Libya has dominated Russia’s Middle Eastern agenda. On Nov. 12, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev led the Russian delegation to Italy for a two-day conference in Palermo in an Italian bid to bridge the parties in conflict, reunite Libya’s institutions and craft a path to elections. Previously, a similar attempt by France bore little fruit.

In the run-up to the conference, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov held meetings with UN special envoy for Libya, Ghassan Salame, and the head of Libya’s High Council of State, Khaled Al-Mishri. On that same day, Bogdanov, who is also President Vladimir Putin’s special envoy for the Middle East and North Africa, held talks with Libyan House of Representatives Chairman Aguila Saleh, Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed Maiteeq and Foreign Minister Mohammed Sayala. The diplomatic activity was poised to balance the Russian Defense Ministry's own contacts with Libyan factions.

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