Malta has been holding diplomatic talks with Libya after Prime Minister Elect Abdul Dabaiba said he would not meet Robert Abela until Malta “starts to show respect”. 

The talks between both sides started in the wake of a spirited speech that was delivered by Dabaiba on Saturday, government sources told Times of Malta.

Contacted on Monday afternoon, Foreign Affairs Minister Evarist Bartolo insisted “there is no issue” between the two countries, which plan to work together in several important areas for the benefit of both.

Dabaiba was briefly filmed addressing Libyan dignitaries, mostly sheikhs, business leaders and mayors of Libyan municipalities in the city of Tobruk at the weekend.

As he talked about peace in Libya and his wish for “no more fighting”, Dabaiba also sounded a warning to countries which, he said, did not treat Libyan nationals with respect.  

Illustrating his point, Dabaiba turned to Malta saying the island was not showing respect to Libyan passport holders. He did not elaborate.

Libyan MPs urged to meet in a sitting and give a vote of confidence to the government

He said he would only meet with Prime Minister Robert Abela when the proper respect was shown to the Libyan people.

Dabaiba is set to take over the helm of the UN-backed government of national unity in Tripoli later this month.

A businessman-turned-politician, Dabaiba was chosen as Libya’s new interim prime minister last week following lengthy UN-led talks aimed at ending a decade of conflict in the North African country.

In a statement issued on Monday, Malta’s foreign affairs minister said he had a phone call on Sunday evening with Jan Kubis, the head of the UN support mission in Libya.

Bartolo said the two spoke of the work expected of Libyan MPs for the country to hold elections in December.

Both sides called on Libyan MPs to meet in a parliamentary sitting and, in a spirit of national unity, give a vote of confidence to the government that will be appointed to lead Libya to the polls at the end of this year.

Libya has been beset by chaos between rival factions since Muammar Gaddafi was ousted in 2011.

Almost all of the boat migrants reaching Malta and Italy normally depart from Libya.

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