Libya’s Sarraj meets US officials after Paris summit

Participants discussed mechanisms for implementing initiatives agreed at the Paris talks.
Friday 01/06/2018
US Charge d’Affaires Stephanie Williams (C) and Commander of US forces in Africa General Thomas Waldhauser (L) attend a news conference in Tripoli, on May 31. (AFP)
US Charge d’Affaires Stephanie Williams (C) and Commander of US forces in Africa General Thomas Waldhauser (L) attend a news conference in Tripoli, on May 31. (AFP)

TUNIS - Libya’s UN-backed government in Tripoli called for “further cooperation” with the United States after talks with an American delegation.

Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj and other top officials met with US Charge d’Affaires Stephanie Williams and US Marine Corps General Thomas Waldhauser, commander of US forces in Africa. They discussed implementing initiatives agreed to at recent Paris talks, including groundwork for elections in December and establishing a constitutional basis for the elections by mid-September.

The Paris meetings May 29 brought Sarraj together with three other Libyan leaders, who agreed to unify parallel institutions and have elections in December.

French President Emmanuel Macron praised the agreement reached at the meetings as a “crucial step” towards stabilising Libya, which was plunged into chaos after the 2011 uprising that led to the toppling of Muammar Qaddafi.

“It’s the first time these Libyan leaders accepted to work together and approved a joint declaration,” Macron said at the close of the conference, which included rivals from Libya’s west and east and representatives of approximately 20 other countries. “Now we have clear commitments for the country, an approved calendar” for elections, Macron said.

The conference aimed to forge a political road map that would restore order in Libya, where lawlessness has fed Islamic militancy, human trafficking and instability in the wider region.

Violence and chaos have dogged Libya since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising and rival powers continue to vie for control in much of the country.

The United States reiterated its commitment to supporting Libya’s security but said that alone would not bring peace or solve the country’s problems.

“The only lasting solution for Libya is to overcome its political impasse,” Williams said, noting that the United States had spent $635 million supporting the country since the uprising.

“The United States believes that elections should occur as soon as possible, but must be well prepared to avoid further instability,” she said.

Since Libya’s uprising numerous jihadist groups, including the Islamic State, which in 2015 seized control of Sirte to the east of Tripoli, have been active in the country. The forces of Libya’s Government of National Accord retook the city in December 2016 with aerial support from the US Army.

(The Arab Weekly staff and agencies.)