Fri Mar 3, 2017 2:41PM
Russia says it is ready to broker talks between rival authorities in Libya to help unify the divided North African country.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Friday that Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had on Thursday in Moscow discussed ways to unite Libya with Fayez Seraj, the prime minister of Libya’s UN-backed government.
“Moscow confirmed its readiness to work closely with all sides in Libya with the aim of seeking mutually acceptable solutions to create the grounds for the stable development of Libya as a united, sovereign and independent state,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
The statement added that Russia sought to cooperate with all parties in Libya, which has experienced violence since NATO’s military intervention that followed the 2011 uprising and led to the overthrow and death of former dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
Rival governments were set up in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, and the east of the country in 2014.
General Khalifa Haftar is linked to the government based in the eastern port city of Tobruk. He has refused to pledge allegiance to the UN-backed government in Tripoli.
Seraj’s visit is apparently an attempt to overcome a deadlock in Libya. A statement from his office quoted the prime minister as saying that Russia could play a positive role in Libya “thanks to its ties with various Libyan parties.”
“The passage of time does not allow for the political maneuvers that (some) Libyan groups are trying to play,” the statement said.
On February 19, Seraj said he hoped that Russia might act as an intermediary between him and Haftar.
According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, Lavrov and Seraj had discussed the progress of a UN-backed reconciliation dialogue.
“The Russian side stressed the need for an inclusive intra-Libyan dialogue aimed at setting up unified organs of power, including an army and police force capable of maintaining security and law and order and of effectively countering a terrorist threat,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
Battle rages on between Libya rivals
The news comes as clashes continued on Friday between the warring sides near oil ports in Libya, a military source said.
Forces in eastern Libya conducted airstrikes and clashed with rival factions south of the coastal town of Nawfiliya near major oil terminals, eastern military officials said, adding that the airstrikes were in response to an attack by the Benghazi Defense Brigades (BDB).
The BDB consists partly of fighters who were ousted from Benghazi by the eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA), whose commander, Haftar, has been leading a campaign against Takfiri terrorists and other opponents for about three years.