Libyan premier, rival general in UAE for 'mediation' talks

04 May, 2017, 00:23 | Author: Essie Rivera
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The statements came a day after intense diplomatic pressure resulted in a meeting in Abu Dhabi between eastern-based commander Khalifa Haftar and the head of the United Nations -backed government in Tripoli, Fayez Seraj.

The United Arab Emirates voiced optimism a political settlement could be reached in Libya after it hosted rare talks on Tuesday between its strongman ally and the internationally recognised premier.

Arab and western diplomats consider Field Marshal Haftar key to any political agreement and have urged the Government of National Accord to give him a role in a unified national military that can fight ISIL as well as human trafficking. While the two were known to be traveling to the UAE's oil-rich capital of Abu Dhabi, their face-to-face meeting came as a surprise.

"We hope this meeting leads to a breakthrough that ends the current political stalemate", he said.

"The UAE believes that any solution that brings stability to Libya, should come from, and be supported by the Libyans, and should be purely based on Libyan-Libyan dialogue", the ministry said. The United Arab Emirates, along with Egypt, have backed Hifter, who Russian Federation also has sought to cultivate.

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The importance of the meeting was bolstered by the arrival of Egyptian president Abdel Fattah El Sisi in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday. The UAE's military is suspected of carrying out airstrikes in Libya supporting Hifter and operating out of a base in the country's east, near the border with Egypt. It's unclear if he'll be part of the talks.

The heads of two rival Libyan camps issued separate statements on Wednesday promising to work to end the country's crisis, without, however, outlining any concrete measures over a political deal.

Libya has remained in a state of turmoil since early 2011, when leader Muammar Gaddafi was ousted and killed in a bloody uprising - backed by North Atlantic Treaty Organisation airpower - after 42 years in power.

The turmoil has transformed Libya into a major conduit for migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea to Europe, and the major power vacuum has allowed the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) and other extremists to gain a foothold.

It stressed the need for "upholding the goals of the February revolution" against Gaddafi, building up an army under civilian control, combating terrorism, defusing an escalation of violence in the south and "taking all measures that guarantee the peaceful hand-over of power".

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