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French FM Pushes Peace Deal in Libya | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian speaks during a news conference at the headquarters of the prime minister’s office in Tripoli, Libya September 4, 2017 . REUTERS/Ismail Zitouny

France’s Foreign Minister Jean Yves Le Drian was in Libya on Monday to meet rival political leaders and offer support for a deal aimed at stabilizing the country. According to Reuters, Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj and the divided nation’s eastern commander Khalifa Haftar signed an agreement in Paris in July committing them to a conditional ceasefire and to work toward elections in 2018.

In Tripoli, Le Drian met Sarraj and planned to hold talks with Abdulrahman Swehli, who is connected to some of Haftar’s rivals who heads a parliamentary council in the capital, Libyan officials said.

Le Drian was also to visit Misrata, Swehli’s home city and a base of opposition to Haftar, before heading to Benghazi to meet Haftar and to Tobruk to meet the head of an eastern-based parliament aligned with him.

“The minister wants to consolidate this agreement by getting the parties not invited in July to support it,” said a French diplomatic source.

“He wants to ensure that everyone is playing the game and lay the groundwork for elections.”

The French minister’s visit is in line with President Emmanuel Macron’s push for a deeper French role in bringing Libyan factions together in the hope of countering militant violence and easing Europe’s migrant crisis.

Western governments, worried about fundamentalist militants and smugglers thriving in Libya’s chaos, are pushing a broader UN-backed deal to unify Libya and end the instability that has weakened the country since the 2011 fall of Muammar Gaddafi.