A Maltese diplomatic delegation met for the first time with Khalifa Haftar for talks in Benghazi on security challenges faced by Malta and Libya in the region, discussing in particular intelligence showing how migrant smuggling groups are using chartered flights from Syria to lure Bangladeshi people to Libya where they get onto boats to reach Europe, according to a report by Malta Today newspaper.
Malta Today added that the delegation, led by the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs and Trade Christopher Cutajar, saw several meetings held in Tripoli and Benghazi on 29 and 30 May. The delegation including as well the Secretary to the Cabinet, Ryan Spagnol, Malta’s Ambassador to Libya, Charles Saliba, among others.
During meetings in Benghazi, Cutajar welcomed developments in the security track following discussions held in 5+5 Joint Military Commission (JMC) meetings. The delegations agreed to extend military cooperation between the respective navies and military forces.
The delegations also discussed the potential of a direct air connection between Benghazi and Malta to complement already established routes to Tripoli and Misrata while enhancing possibilities for commercial exchanges from the region.
"In Tripoli, the delegation also met with General Abdulfatah Belug, Head of Operations of the Armed Forces, Admiral Al Buni, Head of Navy and Admiral Ridaa Ben Isa, Head of Coast Guard, as well as Mr Mohammed Said, Under-Secretary at the Ministry of Interior. The two delegations explored new avenues of cooperation, particularly in light of the renewal of the Memorandum of Understanding on Migration that was signed in 2020. It was valid for a period of three years to be renewed automatically for another year. They also discussed the setting up of a joint committee to enhance working-level contacts between the different services." Malta Today added.
Haftar's media office said Wednesday that meetings with the Maltese delegation were held in Benghazi and discussed bilateral relations and cooperation, without adding any more details.