Libya's rival leaders due in Paris for talks: report

Libya's rival leaders due in Paris for talks: report
Libya's conflicting political factions are expected to meet for talks in Paris on Tuesday, reports suggest.
2 min read
23 July, 2017
The talks will be held in Paris [Getty]

The heads of the opposing sides in Libya's crisis are planning to meet in Paris on Tuesday for talks to find a way out of the impasse, according to reports.

Khalifa Haftar, who controls the east of the oil-rich country, and the head of the UN-backed government Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj are expected to hold discussions under the auspices of French President Emmanuel Macron, according to France's JDD newspaper on Sunday.

The report said Ghassam Salame, the newly appointed UN envoy for Libya, had confirmed the meeting would take place, however Salame declined to comment when contacted by AFP.

Meanwhile, Macron's office did not confirm or deny that a meeting in the French capital was planned.

It would be the second talks between Sarraj and Haftar in the space of three months after they met in Abu Dhabi in May.

This month Sarraj laid out a new political roadmap for his violence-wracked country, including the scheduling of presidential and parliamentary elections in March 2018.

Political rivalry and fighting between militias have hampered Libya's recovery from the chaos that followed the 2011 uprising that toppled and long-time dictator Muammar Qaddafi, who was killed in the aftermath.

Sarraj's Government of National Accord has been struggling to assert its authority since it began work in Tripoli in March 2016. Meanwhile, Haftar's rival administration based in the remote east has refused to recognise the UN-backed government.

Western intelligence services fear that Islamic State militants are capitalising on the chaos to set up bases in Libya as they are chased from their former strongholds in Iraq and Syria.

Libya has also become the main springboard for migrants seeking to reach the EU by sailing to Italy in often flimsy and overloaded boats.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told Le Monde newspaper in June that Libya was "a priority" for the new French president and said there were "a security risk because of the trafficking of all kinds, including humans" from Libya.