Tripoli – French Foreign Minister Jean Yves Le Drian, met with Libyan officials in Tripoli on Monday to offer support for a deal between political rivals signed in Paris aimed at stabilising the North African country.
Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Seraj and the divided nation’s eastern commander Khalifa Haftar had in July committed to conditional ceasefire.
They also pledged to work toward elections, but the agreement did not include other key factions.
Worried about Islamist militants and smugglers thriving in Libya’s chaos, Western governments are pushing for a broader U.N.-backed deal to unify the country and end the instability that had weakened the country since the 2011 fall of Muammar Gaddafi.
In Tripoli, Le Drian met Seraj and planned talks with Abdulrahman Swehli, a politician connected to some of Haftar’s rivals who heads a parliamentary council in the capital, Libyan officials said.
Le Drian is also to visit Misrata, Swehli’s home city and a base of opposition to Haftar, before heading to Benghazi to meet Haftar and to Tobruk to meet the head of an eastern-based parliament that backs him.
The French minister’s visit is in line with President Emmanuel Macron’s push for a deeper French role in bringing Libyan factions together in the hope of countering violence and easing Europe’s migrant crisis.
“Our objective is the stabilisation of Libya in the interests of the Libyans themselves.
“A united Libya, equipped with functioning institutions, is the condition for avoiding the terrorist threat in the long term,” Le Drian said in a statement in Tripoli.
He said the Paris deal was meant to support the U.N.-backed accord for a government of national unity.
Past Western attempts to broker agreements had often fallen victim to political infighting among rival factions and armed brigades vying for power in the oil rich country.
Seraj’s government had struggled to impose control and its presidential council is divided.
Haftar, who had refused to accept Seraj’s legitimacy, is backed by allies in Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. (Reuters/NAN)