Macron holds talks with Libya’s strongman Haftar

PARIS, French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday met here with Libyan “Field Marshall” Khalifa Haftar to discuss the crisis and the ongoing conflict in Libya, according to a statement by the Elysee Palace.

The meeting comes exactly two weeks after Macron received Haftar’s opponent and Libyan Prime Minister Fayez Al-Sarraj who accused France several weeks ago of supporting Haftar.

The forces loyal to Haftar had laid siege to the Libyan capital of Tripoli in a bid to overthrow Sarraj’s Government of National Accord.

France denies favouring Haftar and maintains it is in contact with all parties in the conflict and Macron has issued a message of strong support for the Tripoli government.

Around 500 people are reported to have been killed in less than two months of fighting, with many more wounded and thousands displaced.

Haftar, who is takes the title of commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA) accuses the authorities in Tripoli of colluding with terrorist groups, allied in the defence of the capital.

The meeting with Haftar aimed “to facilitate dialogue between the Libyan parties in the context of ongoing military operations around Tripoli,” the French Presidency said in the statement.

Macron also urged Haftar and his forces to ensure the protection of civilian populations and to work towards a cease-fire and the resumption of political negotiations with Al-Sarraj.

But diplomats here were not optimistic on a cease-fire as Haftar maintained conditions were not yet right for this.

The French leader also reaffirmed France’s priorities in Libya, among them “the fight against terrorist groups, the dismantling of trafficking networks, in particular linked with clandestine migrations and the lasting stabilisation of Libya.” He also recalled to Haftar his commitments made during several international meetings with other Libyan factions, specifically peace talks in Paris, Palermo and Abu Dhabi.

These call for the implementation of a transitional governance, the unification of Libyan institutions and the preparation of elections called for by the Libyan people.

Macron called on the Libyan commander to see that these were implemented, the Elysee said.

The President also reiterated support for the United Nations and its efforts in Libya and called for close coordination with European, African and international partners on the Libyan crisis.

Source: Kuwait News Agency