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Italy PM Giuseppe Conte warns of Russian and Turkish involvement in Libya

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Italy PM Giuseppe Conte warns of Russian and Turkish involvement in Libya
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AP
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Italy's prime minister Giuseppe Conte has warned that Russia and Turkey, and not Europe, are setting the agenda in their involvement in Libya's conflict.

In his end of year news conference Conte said Russia and Turkey were only pursuing a military and not a political solution in the North African state.

"We must be united, we cannot allow actors even much more distant from Libya, to position themselves, settle their role in the Libyan scenario and claim the primacy for any solutions," he said. "Solutions which, moreover, are only military," he added.

Turkey has signed agreements with the Libyan government that controls Tripoli, and some of the country's west.

A military deal now allows Turkey to dispatch military experts and personnel, along with weapons, even though there's a UN arms embargo.

Conte also said his government will soon embark on an ambitious reform programme. The reforms will include streamlining bureaucracy and fighting tax evasion to lower the tax burden on the middle class that is struggling amid a stagnant economy.

"If we don't want the country to go bankrupt, it's clear to everyone that we must work in a serious, rational, credible" way to combat endemic tax evasion, he said.

Fragmented politics?

Conte brushed off talk that his government, which took office in September, could implode.

Plagued by infighting in the main party, the populist 5-Star Movement, and among leaders of the Democratic Party, the other key coalition member, the government's staying power has been questioned.

Conte warned coalition party leaders against getting mired in polemics. He approved "lively debate but not squabbling for squabbling's sake."

He predicted that voters would punish the ruling centre-left forces if they brought down the government in hopes of triggering new elections merely for political advantage.

Conte also ruled out heading any new party, saying that would only further confuse Italy's already fragmented political forces.

Parliament's term runs out in early 2023.

Opinion polls show Conte is one of Italy's most admired leaders since he first became premier a year-and-a-half ago in an earlier coalition that paired the 5-Stars with the rival right-wing League led by anti-migrant proponent Matteo Salvini.

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