Algeria to host meeting of foreign ministers from Libya's neighboring countries on Thursday

Alwasat - Cairo Thu 23 Jan 2020, 02:29 AM
alwasat radio

Algeria will host foreign affairs ministers from six northern and sub-Saharan African countries on Thursday to discuss the conflict in Libya. 

The Algiers meeting of ministers from Egypt, Tunisia, Sudan, Chad, Mali and Niger follows a summit in Germany's capital, Berlin, aimed at shoring up a ceasefire.

Algeria, which has a 1,000-km (620-mile) border with Libya, is working to "build consensus to secure the maximum chance for a peace deal" at a proposed future meeting in Algiers, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters news agency.

Algeria maintains good contacts with all sides in Libya. Several other foreign leaders and foreign ministers from Arab and European states and Turkey have all visited Algeria in recent weeks to discuss the crisis.

Already facing its own internal political problems after nearly a year of mass protests that have led to changes in its leadership, Algeria is worried about new security threats arising from any escalation in Libya.

The conflict represents the first major international test for President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, who was elected last month.

Algeria fears attempts by armed groups to enter its territory from Libya to attack its oil and gas facilities.

Libya's embattled Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj enjoys UN recognition and a Turkish military presence, but has struggled to assert his authority beyond Tripoli.

Haftar has the support of Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and Russia. His Libyan National Army controls vast swaths of territory in the oil-rich North African country.

In April, Haftar's forces launched an offensive to seize Tripoli, with clashes so far killing more than 280 civilians and 2,000 fighters while displacing tens of thousands of people.

On January 12, a fragile ceasefire backed by both Turkey and Russia was put into place.

On Sunday, world leaders agreed at a conference in Berlin to set up a so-called "International Follow-Up Committee", which seeks to implement the goals of the summit, namely to secure a lasting ceasefire and implement a UN arms embargo that has been largely ignored for almost a decade.

A number of European figures further suggested the possibility of deploying peacekeeping troops to Libya if a permanent ceasefire were agreed, though this was not part of the discussions.

The committee is scheduled to meet for the first time in Berlin in mid-February.

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