US, Russia say cannot support a UN call for Libya truce

According to a UN diplomat, "the American system is trying to evaluate all the scenarios and work out which one is in America's best interest."
Friday 19/04/2019
UN Envoy for Libya Ghassan Salame speaks during a news conference in Tripoli, Libya April 6, 2019. (Reuters)
UN Envoy for Libya Ghassan Salame speaks during a news conference in Tripoli, Libya April 6, 2019. (Reuters)

The United States and Russia both said on Friday they could not support a United Nations Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire in Libya at this time, diplomats said, as mortar bombs crashed down on a suburb of the Libyan capital, Tripoli.

Russia objects to the British-drafted resolution blaming the Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar for the latest flare-up in violence after the LNA advanced to the outskirts of Tripoli earlier this month, diplomats said.

The United States gave no reason for its position on the draft resolution, which would also call on countries with influence over the warring parties to ensure compliance and for unconditional humanitarian aid access in Libya, which has been gripped by anarchy since Muammar Qaddafi was toppled in 2011.

The United States' UN mission declined to comment and the Russian UN mission did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A resolution needs nine votes in favour and no vetoes by the United States, Britain, France, Russia or China -- the so-called permanent five -- to pass. It was not immediately clear if Britain would persist with negotiations on a draft next week.

The United States and Russia made their positions clear during a closed-door council briefing by UN Libya envoy Ghassan Salame, who diplomats said appealed for a ceasefire, warning that weapons were pouring into the country and it was heading toward a serious humanitarian situation.

Some UN diplomats have suggested the United States might be trying to buy time as President Donald Trump's administration works out how to deal with the latest developments in Libya.

"I think there are a range of views in Washington on the policy side and they haven't reconciled them and they're not entirely certain where the president is on it," said a senior UN diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"The American system is trying to evaluate all the scenarios and work out which one is in America's best interest and just hasn't done that yet," the diplomat said.