Tripoli – The French, British and Spanish ambassadors flew into Libya’s capital on Thursday for the first time since summer 2014 to support the unity government’s struggle to end years of chaos exploited by terrorists.
This move follows Italy’s Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni’s visit to Libya on Tuesday, thus putting an end to the political isolation imposed by the international community on Tripoli’s authorities since “Fajr Libya” (Libyan Dawn) forces announced their seizure on Tripoli.
Italy’s Foreign Minister said on Tuesday that embassies would be reopened in the capital in “the near future”. It is the diplomats’ first return in about two years, since all envoys fled the country in 2014, amidst a chaotic civil war.
Most of the foreign embassies closed for security reasons as Tripoli descended into heavy clashes between rival militias.
The three European diplomats, the French ambassador Antoine Sivan, British envoy Peter Millet and Spain’s Jose Antonio Bordallo, were to meet with deputies of the Prime Minister-designate, Fayez al-Sarraj, who acts also as the Government of National Accord, at a heavily guarded naval base in Tripoli, which is acting as the temporary headquarters for the putative government.
The British envoy David Millett and his French counterpart Antoine Sivan were accompanied by their defense attachés.
Later on, the ambassadors held a meeting with members of the Presidency Council of the new Government of National Accord, headed by the Libyan Deputy Prime Minister of the GNA, Ahmad Meitig, since Fayez al-Sarraj is currently present in Istanbul to participate in the summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in Istanbul.
Speaking at a joint press conference, Britain’s Millet said that their visit sent “an important message to the Libyan people that we’re supporting the unity government”. “Our goal is to achieve security and stability in Libya, and we look forward to returning to Tripoli to open the British embassy again,” he said, speaking in Arabic.
For his part, the French ambassador Sivan said, “We are all ready to deliver the necessary support to the unity government based on its request,” but added that they “will not interfere in the government’s internal work. “We are very close to normality. We are very close to peace, and Libyan people deserve better,” said Bordallo.
World powers see the unity government as vital to tackling raging terrorists’ insurgency and rampant people smuggling in the North African state. The French government said the visits were a show of solidarity with GNA chief Fayez al-Sarraj and that Paris “stands alongside the national unity government in Tripoli”.
“The unity government must exercise its authority over all Libya’s administrations and financial institutions,” said French Foreign Ministry in a statement issued; adding it could count on French support “in the struggle against the terrorist threat”.