Russia, Egypt pushing for Haftar-Sarraj Libya meeting in Cairo
Moscow and Cairo, who both back Marshal Haftar, have been working closely to organise a meeting in Cairo between the two powerful figures to find a political settlement to the chaos in Libya, an Egyptian diplomatic source told The New Arab on Tuesday.
Emboldened by its success in Syria, Russia has turned its eyes to Libya, supporting Haftar whose forces oppose Sarraj's internationally backed government.
"Russia wants to quickly find a solution to the crisis and is taking the lead in the initiative, especially after it managed to play a key role in the Syrian conflict," the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said.
"Russia has succeeded in convincing Haftar to agree to meet with Sarraj, something he has refused to do on multiple occasions in the past," he added.
Moscow is looking to gain a foothold in Libya with its backing for Haftar, who is based in Libya's east and one of the country's most powerful figures since the overthrow and killing of longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi.
Russia has been cultivating Haftar as an ally, with the military chief making several visits to Moscow last year.
The emerging alliance was clear to see when a Russian aircraft carrier – fresh from completing a two-month mission off Syria in support of President Bashar al-Assad's forces – welcomed Haftar earlier this month.
The Admiral Kuznetsov parked off the coast of the eastern Libyan town of Tobruk to take Haftar on board, where he met with Russian officers and spoke via video link to Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu.
Last week, Sarraj met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Egypt's Chief of Staff Mahmoud Hegazi to discuss the situation in Libya and efforts to reach a consensus between the various Libyan factions, according to Egyptian state media.
As Sarraj left Egypt, UN special representative to Libya Martin Kobler landed in Cairo to meet with Hegazi and was briefed on outcomes of latest talks.