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Iran Press TV

Libya's General Haftar meets Russian ministers, demands military help

Iran Press TV

Tue Aug 15, 2017 7:3AM

Powerful Libyan military commander Khalifa Haftar has met Russian foreign and defense ministers during a visit to Moscow.

Haftar held separate talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on Monday.

Following his meeting with Lavrov, the Libyan commander told reporters that he asked Russia for military aid.

"I am sure Russia remains a good friend of ours and will not refuse to help," Haftar said, without disclosing what kind of assistance he had specifically asked for.

Haftar described the outcome of his meeting with Lavrov as "very positive."

"We briefed [Lavrov] on our problems, described the picture in whole. Naturally, the Russian side considers how it can participate in the search for the required decisions. We'd be delighted if Russia continues to participate in this work," he said, without explaining.

Reports said that Haftar referred to the role of his self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) in fighting terrorism in Libya during the meeting with the Russian foreign minister.

Lavrov reportedly told Haftar at the start of the meeting that, "The situation in Libya remains complicated, the extremism threat in your motherland is still not overcome."

The top Russian diplomat also underlined the significance of seeking a political solution to the political and military conflicts in Libya.

"However, we are aware of the steps being undertaken and actively support the tendency… for political reconciliation, full restoration of statehood in your country," Lavrov said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a separate statement on the meeting that Russia had stressed the importance of inclusive dialog involving "all major political forces, tribes and regions" in the north African country.

"It was also confirmed that Russia is ready to provide further assistance in promoting the political process, in contact with all Libyan parties," the ministry added.

Haftar also held a meeting with Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu following his talks with Lavrov.

The Russian Defense Ministry said in a brief statement that the "basic attention [of the meeting] was focused on the developments in North Africa with a focus on the situation in Libya," adding that the two sides had stressed the importance of continued bilateral consultations.

Haftar's visit to Russia, which started on Saturday, was his third. He had last visited the Russian capital in November 2016.

Libya has faced chaos since an uprising and a US-led military intervention resulted in the downfall of long-time dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. The country has been grappling with insecurity and the emergence of numerous militant groups, including Daesh, since then.

Libya now has two governments, the Government of National Accord (GNA), which is based in Tripoli and is led by Fayez al-Sarraj, and the other being centered in the far east, in the city of Tobruk.

Haftar's LNA is loyal to the government in Tobruk.

The two governments have been involved in negotiations, including most recently in France, to come to an agreement.

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