EU top diplomat in Libya to push for peace talks

AFP , Tuesday 1 Sep 2020

EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell listens during a press statement with German Foreign Minister on August 28, 2020 in Berlin, Germany. AP

The EU's foreign policy chief held talks with Libya's UN recognised government on Tuesday to push for renewed efforts to resolve the country's long-running conflict.

Josep Borrell met the head of the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord, Fayez al-Sarraj, whose administration recently announced a truce after months of hostilities with Khalifa Haftar's Libya National Army (LNA). 

"#Libya remains top priority for EU. We welcome recent ceasefire understanding, and continue to support dialogue and Libyan-led political resolution to conflict," Borrell tweeted after the meeting.

Haftar launched an offensive to seize Tripoli in April 2019, but was beaten back by pro-GNA forces. Fighting has stalled around the central Mediterranean port of Sirte, the gateway to Libya's eastern oil fields and export terminals.

The GNA and Aguila Saleh, speaker of the eastern-based parliament that backs Haftar, in late August made separate announcements that they would cease all hostilities and hold nationwide elections, drawing praise from world powers.

"EU strongly supports Berlin process, mediation efforts and deescalation measures, including arms embargo - key elements to bring Libyan conflict to an end," Borrell tweeted.

He was referring to a January summit in the German capital where the main countries involved in the Libyan conflict agreed to respect an arms embargo and to stop interfering in Libya's domestic affairs.

Borrell said he had also discussed ways "to advance (the) political process", revive joint military talks between the two sides and to lift an oil blockade imposed since January by pro-Haftar groups demanding a fair share of hydrocarbon revenues.

The EU diplomat later on Tuesday met the head of the National Oil Corporation Mustafa Sanalla, and tweeted that they had discussed the "need to ensure that oil production can resume, for the benefit of all Libyans and for the unity and prosperity of #Libya."

Haftar last month authorised a partial lifting of the months-long blockade of oil terminals to help ease power cuts in the east, according to a military official loyal to him.

The north African country, which sits on the continent's biggest crude reserves, has been mired in a complex web of conflicts since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that toppled and later killed longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi.

Haftar is supported by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates as well as Russia, while the GNA is backed by Turkey and Qatar.

*This story was edited by Ahram Online. 

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