Libyan strongman Haftar set for Moscow talks
Libya's military strongman Khalifa Haftar will visit Moscow on Saturday for discussions over a peace plan including a ceasefire and political talks, a Russian official said Friday.
Haftar will discuss “the issue of his eventual meeting with the prime minister” of Libya’s recognised government, Fayez al-Sarraj, said Lev Dengov, who heads Russia’s Libya contact group.
“Relevant questions on reconciling the parties and the conflict will be raised,” Dengov was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency.
Oil-rich Libya has been in turmoil since the ouster of longtime leader Moamer Kadhafi in 2011, turning the country into a hub for human trafficking and drawing jihadist groups from the region.
The United Nations has been struggling for months to re-launch talks on a deal reached in 2015 on setting up a national unity government that has been rejected by Haftar and other factions.
Appointed last year to lead the new government of national accord, Sarraj has failed to assert authority outside of Tripoli while Haftar’s forces this month scored a major military victory when they seized Benghazi, Libya’s second city.
The pair reached agreement on a new peace initiative during talks hosted last month by French President Emmanuel Macron.
In the 10-point joint declaration, Sarraj and Haftar agreed to work on a roadmap for security and defence, unifying national institutions such as the National Oil Corporation and the central bank, and hold elections as soon as possible.
Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army is backed by Russia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates and recently liberated Benghazi after a three-year campaign against jihadist groups.