Libya play­ers agree to re­spect arms em­bargo

Antelope Valley Press - - BUSINESS - By FRANK JOR­DANS and GEIR MOUL­SON

BER­LIN — World pow­ers and other coun­tries with in­ter­ests in Libya’s long-run­ning civil war agreed Sun­day to re­spect a much-vi­o­lated arms em­bargo, hold off on mil­i­tary sup­port to the war­ring par­ties and push them to reach a full cease-fire, Ger­man and U.N. lead­ers said.

The agree­ment came af­ter about four hours of talks at the chan­cellery in Ber­lin. Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel hosted lead­ers of 11 coun­tries, with Libya’s two main ri­val lead­ers also in the Ger­man cap­i­tal but not at the main con­fer­ence ta­ble.

Or­ga­niz­ers knew that “we had to suc­ceed in get­ting all the par­ties that con­nected in any way with the Libya con­flict to speak with one voice ... be­cause then the par­ties in­side Libya will also un­der­stand that there is only a non-mil­i­tary way to a so­lu­tion,” Merkel said. “We achieved this re­sult here.”

Libya has sunk fur­ther into chaos since the 2011 ouster and killing of its long­time dic­ta­tor, Moam­mar Gad­hafi. It is now di­vided into ri­val ad­min­is­tra­tions, each backed by dif­fer­ent na­tions: the U.N.-rec­og­nized gov­ern­ment based in Tripoli, headed by Sar­raj, and one based in the coun­try’s east, sup­ported by Hifter’s forces.

Hifter’s forces have been on the of­fen­sive since April, lay­ing siege to Tripoli in an ef­fort to cap­ture the cap­i­tal. Hifter’s forces are backed by Egypt, Rus­sia and the United Arab Emi­rates, while the Tripoli gov­ern­ment has turned to Turkey for troops and weapons.

A truce bro­kered ear­lier this month by Rus­sia and Turkey marked the first break in fight­ing in months, but there have been re­peated vi­o­la­tions.

Among those who at­tended Sun­day were Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin, Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan, French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron, Ital­ian Premier Giuseppe Conte, Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Boris John­son and U.S. Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo.

The par­tic­i­pants agreed that “we want to re­spect the arms em­bargo, and that the arms em­bargo will be more strongly con­trolled than was the case in the past,” Merkel said. She added that the re­sults of the con­fer­ence should be en­dorsed by the U.N. Se­cu­rity Coun­cil.

Libya’s two main ri­val lead­ers, Prime Min­is­ter Fayez Sar­raj and Gen. Khal­ifa Hifter, each named five mem­bers of a mil­i­tary com­mit­tee that will rep­re­sent them at talks on a more per­ma­nent cease-fire, Merkel said.

U.N. Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral An­to­nio Guter­res said that the com­mit­tee would be con­vened “in Geneva in the com­ing days.”

Merkel said the sum­mit par­tic­i­pants agreed that they will give no fur­ther sup­port to the war­ring par­ties in Libya ahead of the com­mit­tee’s meet­ing and “cease op­er­a­tions as long as the cease-fire holds.”

There was no ex­plicit com­mit­ment, how­ever, to with­draw­ing ex­ist­ing mil­i­tary sup­port. That “is a ques­tion for the real cease­fire,” Merkel said.

She said the con­fer­ence hadn’t dis­cussed spe­cific sanc­tions for vi­o­lat­ing the arms em­bargo.

The sum­mit’s fi­nal state­ment said the par­tic­i­pants “call on all ac­tors to re­frain from any ac­tiv­i­ties ex­ac­er­bat­ing the con­flict or in­con­sis­tent with the (U.N.) arms em­bargo or the cease­fire, in­clud­ing the fi­nanc­ing of mil­i­tary ca­pa­bil­i­ties or the re­cruit­ment of mer­ce­nar­ies.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel, rear cen­ter, leads a con­fer­ence on Libya on Sun­day at the chan­cellery in Ber­lin, Ger­many.

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