World powers gathered Wednesday in Berlin to seek lasting peace in Libya by ensuring the conflict-wracked North African country stays firmly on the path towards general elections on December 24.
Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah of Libya’s interim government is joining US Secretary of State Antony Blinken as well as the foreign ministers of France, Turkey and Egypt at the UN-sponsored talks.
Russia’s Sergei Lavrov will be absent, but deputy foreign minister Sergey Vershinin will attend in his place.
The efforts to end a decade-long spiral of violence in Libya are the second round held in Berlin, after the first attended by the presidents of Turkey, Russia and France in January 2020, before the pandemic.
Before heading into talks, Blinken renewed demands that all foreign forces leave the war-battered nation.
A ceasefire agreement from October last year “has to be fully implemented including by withdrawing all foreign forces,” Blinken told reporters ahead of the opening of the conference.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, who is hosting the visit, underlined that “for the further stabilisation of the country, it is crucial that elections take place as planned and that foreign fighters and mercenaries really do leave Libya.”
Participants at the 2020 conference had pledged to end to international meddling and for foreign militants or troops to withdraw.
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But neither Moscow nor Ankara, both of which have significant forces in the country, have met their promise.
The United Nations has estimated that 20,000 foreign fighters and mercenaries are still on Libya’s territory. And that presence is seen as a threat to the UN-backed transition leading to the elections
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