Macron meets Menfi, voices support for new Libyan government

The French president said his country and its allies want to make sure that all foreign fighters, especially those coming from Russia and Turkey, leave Libya “as soon as possible.”
Wednesday 24/03/2021
French President Emmanuel Macron (R) talks to the press with Libya’s interim leaders Mohamed El-Menfi (C) and Musa al-Koni (L) after their meeting at the Elysee presidential Palace in Paris on March 23, 2021. (AFP)
French President Emmanuel Macron (R) talks to the press with Libya’s interim leaders Mohamed El-Menfi (C) and Musa al-Koni (L) after their meeting at the Elysee presidential Palace in Paris on March 23, 2021. (AFP)

PARIS--France will reopen its embassy in Libya’s capital Tripoli next week in a gesture of support to the conflict-ravaged country’s interim government, President Emmanuel Macron announced Tuesday.

Macron said that France owes “a debt to Libya and the Libyans, after a decade of disorder.”

Libya was plunged into chaos when an uprising in 2011 — with support from a NATO military operation initially led by France — toppled longtime ruler Muammar Gadhafi, who was later killed.

Macron spoke after a meeting in Paris with Mohammad Younes Menfi and Musa al-Koni, president and vice-president of Libya’s Presidency Council. The transitional government took power last week.

“There will be no peace” in the broader region “if we can’t get peace and stability in Libya, if we do not succeed in eradicating the terrorist groups and all kinds of smugglers,” Macron said.

He added that priority should be given to maintaining the ceasefire, leading the country towards elections scheduled for December and unifying Libyan armed forces in order to support the transition.

The oil-rich country was in recent years split between rival east and west administrations, each backed by armed groups and foreign governments.

Macron also said France and its allies want to make sure that all foreign fighters, especially those coming from Russia and Turkey, leave Libya “as soon as possible.”

Earlier this month, the UN Security Council called for countries with troops and mercenaries in Libya to withdraw them “without delay.” The UN has estimated that there are 20,000 foreign fighters in Libya, including Syrians, Turks, Sudanese and Russians.

Menfi thanked France for its “remarkable” support to reach a peaceful settlement to Libya’s civil war. The French embassy in Tripoli is set to reopen Monday, with the Béatrice Le Fraper du Hellen moving from France’s temporary Libyan embassy in Tunis.

Libya’s interim government, which includes a three-member presidency council and a cabinet, took power amid international pressure to implement a UN-brokered political roadmap. That roadmap, agreed by a UN-picked Libyan political forum last year, set December 24 for general elections.