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Egypt urges rival Libyan factions to keep talking, FM Shoukry tells Tripoli's Al-Sarraj

Ahram Online , Monday 13 Mar 2017
El-Sisi and Al-Sarraj
File Photo: Egypt's President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and Chairman of Libyan presidential council Fayaz Al-Sarraj (Photo Courtesy of Egyptian Presidency)
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Egypt’s foreign minister Sameh Shoukry told Chairman of the Libyan Presidential Council Fayaz Al-Sarraj that Egypt will continue to push for dialogue among the Libyan rival parties, to support the implementation of the 2015 UN sponsored Skhirat Agreement.

In an official statement by the Egyptian foreign ministry, spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid said Shoukry called Al-Sarraj on March 12; the two spoke about political and security developments in Libya.

The Egyptian foreign minister said that “all parties should express an amount of flexibility in order to make this dialogue [Libyan-Libyan] a success.”

He emphasised Egypt's priorities in Libya, including stability and a swift consensuses to heal the rift between countrymen and break the country's political stalemate..

Shoukry's phone call with the Libyan official comes amid media reports that forces loyal to the country’s eastern-based military commander and strongman Khalifa Haftar, who Cairo and Moscow support, are amassing near the country’s biggest oil shipping terminals, threatening a new assault to take back control of the facilities.

Last Friday, the Benghazi Defence Brigades (BDB) militant group wrested control of the oil facilities -- Ras Lanuf refinery and nearby Sidr depot -- from Haftar and the eastern factions. Al-Sarraj and the presidential council in Tripoli are backing the BDB in this effort.

The struggle now threatens to spiral into an all-out renewed war between the eastern and western factions..

The conflict has already witnessed the bloodiest fighting yet between the two camps: Around 40 troops from the east were killed over four days as the BDB stormed the area. The attackers suffered a handful of casualties themselves.

Egypt condemned the BDB's forceful takeover, saying the assaults undermine ongoing efforts to end the war stricken country's political stalemate.

Cairo has hosted several meetings in the past months with rival Libyan factions to push for discussions that could end the country’s ongoing crisis.

The latest meeting in February was attended by Al-Sarraj, who is recognised by the UN as the country's president; Haftar and Parliament Speaker Aguila Saleh, who represent the House of Representatives in eastern Libya's Tobruk.

In December, Egyptian officials and representatives from multiple Libyan factions issued a declaration of principles and five proposed amendments to the Skhirat Agreement -- brokered by the UN in 2015 to establish a unity government -- during a meeting in Cairo.

The December conference concluded by underscoring four main principles to be respected in Libya's transition: the preservation of a united Libyan territory, support for national institutions, non-interference by foreign bodies, and the maintenance of a civil state. 

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