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Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Egypt supports Libyan unity, territorial integrity: Army's Chief of Staff tells Haftar during Benghazi visit

Ahram Online , Thursday 18 May 2017
Hegazi and Haftar
Egypt's army chief of staff Mahmoud Hegazi (L) and the Libyan National Army head General Khalifa Haftar during a Benghazi meeting on May 18, 2017 (Photo Courtesy of Egypt army spokesman page on Facebook)
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Egypt supports ongoing efforts to preserve the unity of Libya and its territorial integrity, the Egyptian army's Chief of Staff Mahmoud Hegazi told Libyan military commander Khalifa Haftar during a Wednesday visit to Benghazi.

In an official statement by the Egyptian armed forces, spokesman Tamer El-Refai said Hegazi discussed domestic and international developments with the Libyan commander, as well as current challenges faced by Libya and the region.

The visit was announced as the first by an Egyptian military official, who also went to congratulate Hafter on the third anniversary of Operation Dignity.

The two army officials also discussed coordinating efforts between their two armies, including on border control and procedures to stop illegal movement and smuggling.

Hegazi told Haftar that Egypt was keen to support the interests of their Libyan "brothers," expressing his confidence in the ability of Libya's state institutions to harmonise and build a modern democratic state..

Haftar said he valued Cairo's support for the Libyan National Army, referring to the exchange of experience and training with their Egyptian counterparts in various fields. He also praised Cairo's ongoing support for solving the Libyan crisis and ending terrorism in the country.

According to the statement, the visit came as a "continuation of Egypt's role in finding a political solution to the Libyan crisis, with a resolution based on communication between Libyans so that the country may enjoy stability and security."

Hegazi's visit comes only a few days after Haftar visited Cairo to meet with Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi. 

During the meeting, El-Sisi reiterated that Egypt encourages political dialogue to end the Libyan crisis, as well as amendments to the Skhirat agreement, which was signed in Morocco in 2015 and mandates a peaceful transition and the establishment of a national unity government.

For his part, Haftar expressed his gratitude for Egypt’s support in this effort, the statement added.

Egypt has been hosting a series of negotiations in Cairo since late 2016 between the rival Libyan factions with Hegazi facilitating. Egypt has stressed in these meetings the need for a political consensus to end the war.

Since that time, Egypt has been acting as a mediator, along with the UAE, to bring the factions together. 

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