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German foreign minister in Tripoli to press for end to Libyan war

The defense ministers of Turkey and Qatar were also in Libya but it wasn't immediately clear whether Maas met with them

AP , Reuters , Monday 17 Aug 2020
Libya
Foreign Minister of Libya's Government of National Accord (GNA) Mohamed Taha Siala (R) and German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas hold a joint press conference at the headquarters of the Presidential Council in the capital Tripoli, on August 17, 2020. AFP
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German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas made an unannounced visit to Tripoli on Monday, saying that the world must not be deceived by the ``deceptive calm'' in Libya at the moment and find a way to end the conflict.

Maas said in a statement upon arrival in the North African country that he was meeting with officials in the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) in the capital to ``talk about ways out of this very dangerous situation'' where both sides in the bloody civil war are being armed by international allies.

Military commander Khalifa Hafter's Libyan National Army (LNA) launched an offensive in April 2019 trying to capture Tripoli. But his campaign collapsed in June when the Tripoli-allied militias, with Turkish and Syrian mercenaries' support, gained the upper hand, driving his forces from the outskirts of Tripoli and other western towns.

Commander Hafter is supported by Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Russia. Turkey is the main patron of the Tripoli forces, which are also backed by Syrian mercenaries and Qatar.

Germany has been trying to act as an intermediary, and in January held a summit in Berlin where participants from both sides agreed to respect an arms embargo and push Libya's warring parties to reach a full cease-fire, but the agreement has been repeatedly violated.

Later Monday, Maas was to travel to Abu Dhabi to meet with his counterpart there to urge him to use the U.A.E.'s influence with Hafter ``in line with the Berlin summit.''

``Only those who take part in a political process will be part of Libya's future,'' Maas said.

As Maas visited Tripoli, the defense ministers of Turkey and Qatar were also in Libya but it wasn't immediately clear whether the German foreign minister met with them, and the Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a query.

Turkey signed a military accord with the GNA late last year, as well as a memorandum of understanding on maritime boundaries, that was rejected by Egypt, Greece and Cyprus.

Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar and Chief of Staff General Yasar Guler were in Tripoli on Monday to "observe the operations" under a military cooperation deal with Libya, Turkey's defence ministry said.

*This story was edited by Ahram Online 

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