News ID: 265215
Published: 0349 GMT February 04, 2020

UN envoy hopes for Libya talks to stem foreign arms inflow

UN envoy hopes for Libya talks to stem foreign arms inflow
AFP

The UN's special representative for Libya expressed hope for cease-fire talks between Libyan warring sides to hammer out a deal that can convince foreign powers to stop pouring in weapons and breaking an international arms embargo.

Ghassan Salame, head of the United Nations support mission in Libya, lamented how the embargo has been "incessantly" violated since the fall of longtime autocrat Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, and said an international conference in Berlin last month sought to renew respect for it, AP reported.

The weak UN-recognized administration holds the capital Tripoli and parts of the country's west. Led by Prime Minister Fayez Sarraj, it is backed by Turkey and to a lesser degree Qatar and Italy.

On the other side of the civil war is Gen. Khalifa Haftar, based in the country's east. His forces have been fighting to capture the capital for months, and are backed by the United Arab Emirates and Egypt as well as France and Russia.

Sarraj and Haftar have each named five members of a military committee to represent them at the Geneva talks toward a more permanent cease-fire.

Salame noted a "genuine will for both parties to sit together and start negotiations" in the talks, which quietly got underway Monday.

“If we come to a lasting cease-fire ... at least the parties in Libya will not need more weapons or more fighters," he said. "If these talks succeed, at least the pull factor will disappear. Because with the violation of the arms embargo, there is a push factor and a pull factor."

"If you agree on a lasting cease-fire, the pull factor will certainly weaken,” Salame said, pointing to "more than 20 million pieces of weapons in the country and that is enough. The country doesn't need more."

Salame also noted that a blockade by Haftar's forces has slowed Libya's oil output to a trickle.

"I call on countries to support the UN attempts to resume production," he said. “Production has been hit severely. In fact, now Libya is only producing offshore, which is 72,000 barrels a day compared to 1.3 million barrels a day before the closure.”

Libya has the ninth largest known oil reserves in the world and the biggest oil reserves in Africa.

 

 

   
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