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Lavrov Meets Libyan PM, Calls for National Dialogue | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Members of the Libyan pro-government forces, backed by locals, gather on a tank outside the Central Bank, near Benghazi port, January 21, 2015. REUTERS/Esam Omran Al-Fetori

Cairo – UN-backed Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj met on Thursday with Russian Foreign Affairs Minister Sergei Lavrov in an attempt to push Russia to launch a mediation between the Libyan government and Military Commander General Khalifa Haftar.

Sarraj said Russia could play an important positive role in resolving the Libyan crisis thanks to its strong connection with various political forces in the country.

However, the Russian foreign minister said the solution to the crisis was in the hands of the Libyan people themselves.

“We are convinced that only the Libyan people themselves can overcome the current crisis, all the parties in Libya through an inclusive national dialogue aimed at reconciliation,” Lavrov told Sarraj at the start of the meeting.

For his part, Sarraj stressed his keenness on the integration of the country’s different factions in a political solution, despite the presence of some obstacles, in reference to Haftar.

Military strongman Haftar is aligned with the rival administration and commands the self-proclaimed Libyan National Army.

Earlier on Thursday, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov met with Libya’s Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed Maiteeq, in Moscow, in preparation for Sarraj’s meeting with Lavrov.

The Yemeni government’s information office said that officials discussed during the meeting Russia’s role in backing a political agreement, as well as the prospects of bolstering joint cooperation between the two countries in oil, gas and infrastructure.

Meanwhile, Sarraj government forces were heavily deployed in the Abu Salim district in the Libyan capital, following severe clashes that erupted last week between armed factions.

The forces deployment came in response to surprising moves by militias loyal to the self-declared head of Libya’s National Salvation government, Khalifa Ghwell.

In an exclusive interview with Reuters at his residence in Tripoli, Ghwell asked: “What has this government achieved during this year?”

“Unfortunately the international community sees the results of their support. We thank them for their work but the result is very negative. If they persist with this, nothing will change,” he added.

Ghwell noted that he was now in contact with the eastern-based government aligned with Haftar, trying to strike a deal against Sarraj government that they both oppose.

But he says if Haftar tries to seize power in the capital, he will be outgunned. “We are ready for this,” Ghwell was quoted by Reuters as saying.