French FM in Tripoli vows to help resolve Libya crisis

AFP , Monday 4 Sep 2017

Jean-Yves Le Drian
French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian gives a joint press conference with his Libyan counterpart Mohamed Taha Siala (R) following his arrival at the Prime Minister's headquarters in the Libyan capital Tripoli on September 4, 2017 (Photo: AFP)

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian held talks in Tripoli on Monday pledging his country's support for efforts to resolve Libya's political and security chaos.

"This is a signal of the commitment of France, of President Emmanuel Macron's will, to contribute to resolving this crisis," Le Drian told reporters on a visit to the Libyan capital.

Le Drian said the visit was a follow-up to a July 25 accord sealed in Paris between the two main rivals in Libya, its UN-backed Government of National Accord head Fayez al-Sarraj and military strongman Khalifa Haftar who backs a rival administration in the east of the country.

"Our objective is the stabilisation of Libya in the interest of Libyans themselves but also in the interest of neighbouring countries, of which we form part in a way," he said at a joint news conference with Libyan counterpart Mohamed al-Taher Siala.

The French foreign minister said the aim was "a unified Libya with functioning institutions" that would stave off "the terrorist threat" and clear the way for reconciliation.

Libya has plunged into chaos since the overthrow of longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011 with dozens of armed factions filling the power vacuum as people smugglers exploit the chaos to ferry migrants on unseaworthy ships across the Mediterranean to Europe.

At the July talks hosted by France, Sarraj and Haftar accepted that only a political solution can end the crisis, starting with a ceasefire.

In a 10-point statement, the leaders said: "We commit to a ceasefire and to refrain from any use of armed force for any purpose that does not strictly constitute counter-terrorism."

The two sides also committed to "building the rule of law", and integrating fighters into "lawful military forces".

Although the statement did not stipulate a date for elections, the French president said Sarraj and Haftar had "struck an agreement to hold elections next spring".

Following his German and British counterparts who visited Libya this summer, Le Drian said he would travel on to Misrata and then to the eastern cities of Benghazi and Tobruk.

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