Russia says Libya peace conference documents nearly ready but rivals refuse to speak

Russia says Libya peace conference documents nearly ready but rivals refuse to speak
Officials from Russia, Turkey, the United States and the European Union are due to convene for a Libya peace summit on Sunday.
2 min read
17 January, 2020
Ties between Libya rivals Haftar and Sarraj are 'tense' [Getty]
Russia's acting foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday that documents for a Libya peace conference were nearly ready but the country's rivals refused to speak to each other.

Moscow is among a number of world powers preparing to hold a peace summit in Berlin this weekend as they step up efforts to produce a lasting truce in Libya.

"In my opinion, final documents look practically ready," Lavrov told reporters.

The minister underlined huge tensions between the heads of Libya's warring sides - Fayez al-Sarraj, the chief of Tripoli's UN-recognised government, and eastern-based rogue general Khalifa Haftar, who is backed by Moscow.

"So far ties between them are very tense, they don't even want to be in the same room to say nothing of meeting each other," Lavrov said.

Sarraj and Haftar attended talks in Moscow earlier this week but the military strongman, who began his assault on the Libyan capital in April last year, abruptly left on Tuesday without signing a permanent truce to end the fighting.

Lavrov said it was important for both sides not to "repeat past mistakes" and put forward additional demands after the Berlin conference.

Both are invited to attend Sunday's conference in Berlin, but it is unclear whether they will attend. Haftar is currently in Athens for talks with the Greek prime minister and other senior officials.

Despite Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis expressing anger that Athens had not been invited to the German summit, Athens has encouraged Haftar to "take part with a constructive spirit".

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"We encouraged the commander to take part with a constructive spirit in Berlin's procedure and try... to achieve a ceasefire and the restoration of safety in Libya," Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said on Friday according to Reuters.

Security could be restored by "removing the mercenaries and by recognition of the non-validity of the illegal agreements between Turkey and the [Tripoli] government", Dendias added.

Athens has said it will block any European peace agreement for Libya that does not scrap a controversial agreement between Sarraj's government and Turkey on maritime borders.

Greece objects to the deal as it also claims rights over areas of the eastern Mediterranean thought to contain potentially rich natural gas deposits Ankara claims as part of the agreement.  

"Greece, at the level of a [European Union] summit meeting, will never accept any political solution on Libya that does not include as a precondition the annulment of this agreement," Mitsotakis said on Thursday.

"To put it simply, we will use our veto even before the matter reaches the summit, at the level of [EU] foreign ministers," he said.

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