France regrets decision by Haftar to seek arrest of Libyan PM, officials

PARIS, France on Friday said it regretted an announcement by the Libyan National Army (LNA) led by “Field-Marshall” Khalifa Haftar that it was seeking the arrest of Libyan Prime Minister Fayez Al-Sarraj and a number of his civilian and military staff.

The LNA, which is fighting for control of the Libyan capital, Tripoli, announced it was issuing warrants for “treason” for Sarraj and a number of his colleagues.

“We regret this decision,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Agnes von Der Muhll said in a briefing here.

France has been alleged to be supporting Haftar in the Libyan split, an allegation Paris denies.

But the French spokeswoman did not deny that representatives of Haftar’s faction were received in Paris on April 4, just a short time ahead of the offensive Haftar launched against Tripoli, where scores have been killed and thousands displaced.

“Like our partners, we speak to all the parties in the Libyan conflict in order to obtain a cease fire,” the spokeswoman said, although she denied prior knowledge of the LNA attack on Tripoli.

“We were not alerted about the offensive on Tripoli, which we condemned as soon as it was launched,” she affirmed.

But Paris again stressed that it was concerned about militias and individuals involved in the fighting despite being listed as “terrorist” by the United Nations and despite sanctions against these individuals and entities.

The French official pointed to a European Union statement on Thursday in which the EU “expressed concern of all member states of the European Union, including France, about the subject of participation in the fighting of groups led by persons listed by the United Nations because of their terrorist activities, as well as criminal gangs” implicated in the Tripoli fighting.

Von Der Muhll recalled that Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian visited Libya March 18-19 to urge the parties to move towards a settlement and France has been active in the UN Security Council, the EU and the G7 to push for a political solution.

The priority now, the Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said, is a halt to fighting and the resumption of dialogue that will lead to a political solution under UN mediation and including the efforts of UN Special Representative Ghassan Salame, who has France’s full support.

Before the latest outbreak of factional fighting, the Libyan protagonists had been set to meet on April 14 for a “National Conference” on a solution to the various conflicts.

Source: Kuwait News Agency