Leaders to meet in Berlin in latest attempt to solve Libya conflict

Berlin (dpa) - Germany is hosting a UN-led conference with world leaders on Sunday in the hope of resolving Libya's years-long conflict, less than a week after similar talks in Moscow failed to yield significant progress.

The summit follows a flurry of diplomacy aimed at trying to get the leaders of Libya's warring factions - internationally recognized prime minister Fayez al-Serraj and rival commander Khalifa Haftar - to return to the table. It was not yet clear whether they would attend.

Al-Serraj cast doubts on the agenda of his rival Haftar hours before the start of the conference in an interview with dpa.
"Long experience makes us doubt the intentions, seriousness and commitment of the other side, whom everyone know seeks powers at any price," al-Serraj said.
Al-Serraj vowed to "defend" Tripoli should the Berlin conference end inconclusively and Haftar resume his campaign for the city.
"If the aggression resumes, we will continue to defend ourselves strongly until it is routed. We haven't attacked anybody," the ex-lawmaker added.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Russian President Vladimir Putin, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen are among those expected in Berlin.
Russia has expressed hopes that the Berlin talks will cement a ceasefire already negotiated last weekend for the war-torn North African country.
Haftar left the Moscow talks without signing the ceasefire deal. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, who subsequently visited Libya this week, said the influential general had tacitly agreed to the truce.
"It is most important that the ceasefire is observed," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday.
Germany's focus, on the other hand, is on halting the flow of weapons and foreign fighters into Libya, which has been in turmoil ever since the 2011 overthrow of dictator Moamer Gaddafi.
"Our first point of contact in the Berlin process is the international parties to the Libya conflict. We want to encourage them to pull back," Maas wrote on Twitter on Friday.
Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio echoed both points in a Facebook post ahead of the conference. "We have to stop the sale of arms [to Libya] and work for a ceasefire. Ensuring security in Libya, where there is a strong terrorist threat, means ensuring security also in our country."
Erdogan expects "concrete" results from the conference, which is an "important step" on the way to a political solution and the consolidation of the ceasefire, he said on Sunday in Istanbul before leaving for Berlin.
The hopes arising from the ceasefire and the Berlin meeting should not be sacrificed to the "ambitions of the traders in blood and chaos."
Turkey, a supporter of al-Serraj, has allegedly sent hundreds of allied fighters from Syria to Libya in recent weeks, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.


Sunday, January 19th 2020

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