French, German FMs visit Libya to back unity government
The foreign ministers of France and Germany made an unannounced visit to Libya on Saturday in a show of support for the new unity government.
World powers see the Government of National Accord as a crucial partner in tackling jihadists behind a string of deadly attacks in Libya as well as human traffickers exploiting the country's turmoil.
France's Jean-Marc Ayrault and Germany's Frank-Walter Steinmeier flew into the capital for talks with the UN-backed unity cabinet at the naval base where it has set up operations.
Steinmeier described the visit as a signal that the international community is united behind the GNA.
"The way to peace and stability is through the implementation of the peace agreement and the government of national unity," he said in remarks released by his ministry.
It is the latest in a flurry of visits by European diplomats who had been absent since 2014 when EU member states closed their Tripoli embassies as fighting shook the North African nation.
Their return was prompted by the arrival of UN-backed prime minister-designate Fayez al-Sarraj by sea two weeks ago with a naval escort, after a rival Tripoli authority shut the airspace to try to keep him out.
"France was one of the first countries to back Sarraj, and the time has come to give a new impetus to that support," a French diplomat said.
The visit comes two days before a crucial vote by the country's recognised parliament on whether to endorse the GNA, and ahead of talks in Luxembourg next week on a possible EU mission to assist Libya's police and border guards.
© 2016 AFP