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Iran Press TV

EU officials in Brussels talk Libya with prime minister of GNA

Iran Press TV

Wednesday, 08 January 2020 5:18 PM

In Brussels, high-ranking European Union (EU) officials have met Fayez al-Sarraj, the prime minister of Libya's UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA), amid tensions that escalated in the North African country following an offensive by forces loyal to General Khalifa Haftar against Tripoli.

Sarraj on Wednesday met EU Minister for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell, who warned that the situation in Libya is "very dangerous" and "we are maybe facing a watershed point."

Haftar's forces took over the coastal city of Sirte from GNA-aligned forces as part of their offensive to wrest control over the capital, where the GNA is based.

The EU is going to considerable lengths to contain the crisis in Libya.

There is concern that instability in the country could lead to the flow of more refugees into Europe.

When in 2011 Libya plunged into chaos following the killing of dictator Muammar Gaddafi, NATO had already intervened militarily.

In the Belgian capital, Sarraj also met Charles Michel, president of the EU Council, and German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.

"We want to prevent Libya from becoming the scene of a proxy war or Libya becoming a second Syria," the German foreign minister told reporters.

Maas said Sarraj had given his full support to a UN-sponsored conference in Berlin and vowed to "push ahead with what is to be agreed there, both a ceasefire and an arms embargo with the neighboring states, but also above all the political process under the aegis of the United Nations."

No date has been set for the Berlin event but it could take place in the next weeks, according to Maas.

The Turkish government is among those who support the GNA in Tripoli. Ankara recently deployed 35 troops in Tripoli to that end.

On Tuesday, Borrell said what Turkey had done amounted to "interference" in the conflict there.

Turkey says the troops are tasked with training and coordinating duties and will not take part in any fighting.

In a period of intense diplomatic activity, the EU Council president is due in Turkey on Saturday for a meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Michel will then head to Cairo to discuss the crisis with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi. ​

Libya has been divided between two rival camps since 2014: one based in the eastern city of Tobruk, and the other, the GNA, in the capital. Haftar is the self-proclaimed commander of an array of militia groups apparently supporting the eastern camp.

Meanwhile in Istanbul, Erdogan met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday.

In a joint statement, the two presidents called for a ceasefire in Libya to take effect from midnight on Sunday "supported by the necessary measures to be taken for stabilizing the situation on the ground."

The conflict is undermining regional security and "triggering irregular migration, further spread of weapons, terrorism and other criminal activities including illicit trafficking," the statement said.

Hafter was in the Italian capital, Rome, on the same day. He met with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. An Italian government source said Conte will also meet Serraj later in the day.

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