Posts Tagged ‘Khalifa Haftar’

Tillerson in London to urge pressure on North Korea

September 14, 2017

AFP

© POOL/AFP | US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks at the US Embassy in London on September 14, 2017

LONDON (AFP) – US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson discussed the need to boost pressure on North Korea in talks with Prime Minister Theresa May in London on Thursday where the Iran nuclear deal was also raised.The two discussed North Korea’s “destabilising activities” and the importance of the international community coming together “to put pressure on the regime,” May’s spokesman said.

On the Iran nuclear deal, which is viewed sceptically in Washington, May was “underlining its importance in preventing Iran from procuring Iran nuclear deal ,” the spokesman said.

Tillerson’s policy adviser Brian Hook said the Secretary of State “never misses an opportunity in bilateral, multilateral settings to raise North Korea and the need to increase pressure on North Korea”.

Tillerson is also scheduled to meet with his British counterpart and a French foreign ministry official in London later on Thursday.

British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson reiterated Britain’s commitment to tackle “the aggressive and illegal actions of the North Korean regime”.

“The UK is at the heart of mobilising world opinion with the aim of achieving a diplomatic solution to the situation on the Korean peninsula,” Johnson said in a statement ahead of the meeting.

On September 3, North Korea detonated its sixth and most powerful nuclear test to date, prompting the UN Security Council to implement new sanctions.

Although Britain and France backed the US demand for tougher sanctions, the final resolution was toned down to secure backing from China and Russia.

In another meeting, Tillerson will also discuss the situation in Libya, where two competing governments and dozens of militias have jousted for power followed the 2011 overthrow of longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi.

The aim of the meeting — attended by the UN envoy for Libya Ghassan Salamé and representatives from France, Italy, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates — is to “discuss how to break the political deadlock in Libya,” Britain’s foreign ministry said.

The US hopes the trip will give “new energy and focus to mediation efforts led by the United Nations,” Hook said.

“The big goal of this is to avoid a military solution,” he added, warning that the lack of stability in the country “creates space for terrorists to plot attacks against the West”.

In July, the UN-backed Government of National Accord headed by Fayez al-Sarraj and east Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar committed to a ceasefire and holding elections as soon as possible.

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French FM in Tripoli vows to help resolve Libya crisis

September 4, 2017

AFP

© AFP | French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (L) gives a joint news conference in Tripoli with his Libyan counterpart Mohamed al-Taher Siala

TRIPOLI (AFP) – French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian held talks in Tripoli on Monday pledging his country’s support for efforts to resolve Libya’s political and security chaos.

“This is a signal of the commitment of France, of President (Emmanuel) Macron’s will, to contribute to resolving this crisis,” Le Drian told reporters on a visit to the Libyan capital.

Le Drian said the visit was a follow-up to a July 25 accord sealed in Paris between the two main rivals in Libya, its UN-backed Government of National Accord head Fayez al-Sarraj and military strongman Khalifa Haftar who backs a rival administration in the east of the country.

“Our objective is the stabilisation of Libya in the interest of Libyans themselves but also in the interest of neighbouring countries, of which we form part in a way,” he said at a joint news conference with Libyan counterpart Mohamed al-Taher Siala.

The French foreign minister said the aim was “a unified Libya with functioning institutions” that would stave off “the terrorist threat” and clear the way for reconciliation.

Libya has plunged into chaos since the overthrow of longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011 with dozens of armed factions filling the power vacuum as people smugglers exploit the chaos to ferry migrants on unseaworthy ships across the Mediterranean to Europe.

At the July talks hosted by France, Sarraj and Haftar accepted that only a political solution can end the crisis, starting with a ceasefire.

In a 10-point statement, the leaders said: “We commit to a ceasefire and to refrain from any use of armed force for any purpose that does not strictly constitute counter-terrorism.”

The two sides also committed to “building the rule of law”, and integrating fighters into “lawful military forces”.

Although the statement did not stipulate a date for elections, the French president said Sarraj and Haftar had “struck an agreement to hold elections next spring”.

Following his German and British counterparts who visited Libya this summer, Le Drian said he would travel on to Misrata and then to the eastern cities of Benghazi and Tobruk.

Libya crisis affecting fight against people smuggling

August 27, 2017

AFP

© AFP | Libya’s unity government chief Fayez al-Sarraj at a joint press conference in the Sudanese capital on August 27, 2017

KHARTOUM (AFP) – President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan said on Sunday that the crisis in neighbouring Libya has impacted Sudan, with human traffickers using the East African country’s territories to commit “cross-border crimes”.Speaking at a joint press conference with visiting UN-backed Libyan premier Fayez al-Sarraj, Bashir also said security issues in Libya had made Khartoum’s fight against human trafficking “more expensive”.

“We are affected directly by the insecurity in Libya, which has made it expensive for us to fight human trafficking, illegal immigration and cross-border crimes,” Bashir said.

 Image result for Sudan, Libya, map

“Those who are committing these crimes are using the instability in Libya, and using Sudanese territories to commit their crimes.”

Every year tens of thousands of illegal immigrants from the Horn of Africa cross Sudan and enter Libya for their onward journey to Europe across the Mediterranean.

In recent years European and African authorities have put pressure on Khartoum to boost efforts to curb illegal immigration and human trafficking.

Khartoum recognises the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord of Sarraj, a rival of Libyan military strongman Khalifa Haftar, who is accused by Sudan of enlisting rebels from the country’s Darfur region to fight alongside his forces.

Bashir reiterated that accusation on Sunday.

“We have some Sudanese members of rebel groups active in Libya as mercenaries,” he said, without elaborating.

Sarraj said the two leaders discussed the security situation in Libya.

“Sudan is of strategic importance to Libya, and we discussed how to secure the border,” he said.

The two leaders did not talk about last month’s closure of a Sudanese consulate and the expulsion of 12 diplomats by the Haftar-backed authorities in eastern Libya.

A pro-Haftar news agency had reported that the Sudanese mission in Kufra, an oasis in southern Libya, was closed on the grounds that it damaged “Libyan national security”.

According to officials in Khartoum, dozens of young Sudanese — both men and women — have been killed in Libya fighting in the ranks of the Islamic State jihadist group.

Libya has been rocked by chaos since the 2011 fall and killing of longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi in a NATO-backed revolution.

Jihadists, arms dealers and people traffickers have gained a foothold in the North African country as multiple authorities and dozens of militias vie for power.

Libyan Military Strongman Haftar Visiting Russia

August 12, 2017

MOSCOW — Libyan military commander Khalifa Haftar was due to arrive in Moscow on Saturday ahead of a meeting with Russia’s foreign minister, RIA news agency reported, citing a Russian negotiator.

Haftar is expected to meet Sergei Lavrov on Monday, Lev Dengov, head of the Russian contact group on Libya, told RIA. It was not immediately clear what the pair would be discussing.

At the end of July, Haftar and Libya’s Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj committed during talks in France to a conditional ceasefire and to elections, but a Italian naval mission aimed to help the country curb migrant flows has fueled tension this month.

Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army controls much of eastern and southern Libya.

It has rejected a U.N.-backed government in Tripoli that is struggling to assert authority over an array of armed factions which have been competing for control since the 2011 fall of Muammar Gaddafi.

Haftar has held talks with Russian officials before and in January he was given a tour of a Russian aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean.

The head of the U.N.-backed government visited Moscow in March, and the Kremlin said then it wanted to help repair the damage it said had been done by Western involvement in the country.

(Reporting by Maria Kiselyova; Additional reporting by Aidan Lewis; Editing by Alison Williams)

Libyan PM Al-Serraj and Haftar agree to ceasefire at Paris talks

July 25, 2017

AFP

Text by FRANCE 24 

Latest update : 2017-07-25

Libya’s UN-backed Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj and his main rival, General Khalifa Haftar, agreed to a conditional ceasefire at Paris talks on Tuesday.

French President Emmanuel Macron hosted the talks on Tuesday, stating that he hoped to “facilitate a political agreement” between the head of Libya’s unity government and the powerful Egyptian-backed commander when they met at a chateau in La Celle Saint-Cloud, outside the French capital.

The Paris talks follows a first contact between Sarraj and Haftar in Abu Dhabi in May. That meeting was seen as a tentative step towards reconciliation in Libya, which has been mired in conflict and chaos since the 2011 uprising, when longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown by rebels supported by a French-led NATO air campaign.

Can Macron’s Libya talks deliver

July 25, 2017
© Khalil Mazraawi, Ludovic Marin, Fethi Belaid, AFP | France’s Emmanuel Macron is hoping to score a diplomatic coup when he hosts Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar (left) and the country’s UN-backed Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj (right) on Tuesday.

Video by FRANCE 24

Text by Brenna DALDORPH

Latest update : 2017-07-25

French President Emmanuel Macron will host talks on Tuesday between Libya’s UN-backed Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj and his main rival, General Khalifa Haftar, in a landmark meeting all three are hoping to benefit from.

Image result for Khalifa Haftar, photos

Khalifa Haftar

Officials at the Elysée Palace say Macron will be hoping to “facilitate a political agreement” between the head of Libya‘s unity government and the powerful Egyptian-backed commander when they meet at a chateau in La Celle Saint-Cloud, outside the French capital.

The Paris talks follows a first contact between Sarraj and Haftar in Abu Dhabi in May. That meeting was seen as a tentative step towards reconciliation in Libya, which has been mired in conflict and chaos since the 2011 uprising, when longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown by rebels supported by a French-led NATO air campaign.

THE LIBYAN STRONGMAN AND THE WEAK PM

Currently, Libya numbers two rival parliaments and three governments (the latest was formed in UN-brokered talks and was meant to replace the other two). So far, Haftar has rejected the authority of Sarraj’s UN-backed government as his forces gain ground in the east of the country supported by Egypt and United Arab Emirates.

But, this month, Sarraj set out a new political roadmap for his war-torn country, including the scheduling of presidential and parliamentary elections in March 2018. There is hope that weapons could be set aside and a political solution could be reached.

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Libya’s two strongmen: Fayez al-Sarraj meets Khalifa Haftar — File photo from AFP

Priority for Macron

Western intelligence services fear that Islamic State (IS) group jihadists may capitalise on the chaos to set up bases in Libya as they are chased from their former strongholds in Iraq and Syria.

This fear prompted a shift in French policy: in May, Macron’s newly appointed administration said it was reviewing its position on the Libyan conflict and openly called for a united national army — including Haftar — to battle Islamist militants.

Macron promised during his campaign to prioritise the fight against jihadist militants and, in his first week, travelled to Mali to pay a visit to the French troops that make up the Operation Barkhane counter-terrorism force, created to address the threat across the Sahel. He returned to Mali again in July. Macron has said Libya is a priority for his administration.

“The situation in Libya is extremely worrying for the region because it is positioned on the doorstep of Europe — and, thus, France,” said an official at the Elysée palace on Monday. “For reasons of regional stability, the fight against terrorism and the fight against illegal immigration, the president of the republic wanted to immediately take initiatives for Libya.”

Mattia Toaldo, a policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, says there’s another reason that the French president has leapt on this opportunity to arrange talks between Sarraj and Haftar: because it is the easiest of his priorities to tackle.

“If you compare it with the other priority dossiers — Syria, Russia and the Sahel — facilitating the organisation of elections in Libya doesn’t seem like the hardest task,” Toaldo said. “Macron has already achieved a lot just by convening the summit. It’s taken months for anyone else to get the two sides together, but Macron did it quickly.”

There’s another reason why Macron may find it (marginally) easier to work on Libya, according to Toaldo. On June 22, Ghassan Salamé was appointed as UN special envoy to Libya. Salamé is a Paris-based Lebanese academic, Dean of the Paris School of International Affairs and professor of International Relations at Sciences Po.

“Many people in Macron’s team probably had Salamé as a professor,” Toaldo said. “Salamé is basically French. That was one factor that contributed to this meeting coming together much faster than talks that other countries tried to arrange. Macron can enjoy that little win. Then again, I hope France doesn’t have any illusions about how easy it will be after.”

Gains for the leaders

Macron isn’t the only one with political capital to gain during this meeting, Toaldo added.

“One of the things that lured Haftar to Paris is the possibility of a five-minute photo op with Macron,” he said. “It will do a lot for his international standing. Just last year, Haftar was an outcast.”

Back then, it was unclear what Haftar could do militarily: his men’s control was restricted to a region in the northeast of Libya. Now, the tables have turned and it is his opponents whose control has been reduced to a small area, this time in the country’s northwest.

“Haftar is in a more powerful position,” Toaldo said. “The situation on the ground has changed. Haftar is also backed by Egypt and the UAE, who seem to be on the winning side in the region.”

According to Toaldo, Sarraj is also attending the meeting with the hope of gaining standing by getting Macron’s support.

“Seraj doesn’t have real, consolidated support within Libya — he’s just a political figure in a country where political figures don’t matter,” Toaldo said. “He is similar to [the US-backed former president of Afghanistan, Hamid] Karzai. These men are strong only because external powers give them strength.”

Meeting goals

Speaking at a press briefing on Monday, Elysée officials set out a more concrete goal for the talks.

“We want to see a joint declaration tomorrow between the two main actors,” officials said. “That would be the first time that they accept to agree on a vision of diplomatic transition for the months to come.”

For Toaldo, this may be aiming too high. He said the Libyan leaders won’t want to be seen as making too many concessions, fearing a backlash at home. After the meeting in Abu Dhabi, Sarraj bore the brunt of the criticism, he noted, even though some rumours had exaggerated the extent of his concessions.

“My guess is that they will come to an agreement about a framework for further negotiations,” Toaldo said, “But nothing more binding than that. My hope, however, is that it is more substantial than just a Kodak moment for these three leaders.”

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Video shows 18 blindfolded ‘ISIS fighters’ being shot in the head in Libya

July 24, 2017
  • WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT
  • The men are understood to be ISIS fighters who were killed by the Libyan Army
  • Executioners walk up to a row of prisoners and shoot them dead with rifles
  • Killers then turn on their heels and walk back before the sequence is repeated

A shocking video has emerged showing 18 prisoners in orange jumpsuits getting shot in the back of the head from point-blank range in summary executions in Libya.

The men, understood to be ISIS fighters, are shown kneeling in four rows and facing away from their killers.

Executioners can be seen walking up slowly behind their targets before firing a spray of bullets from what look like semi-automatic assault rifles into the backs of their heads before another line of killers repeat the sequence.

It comes amid tensions between jihadists and Libyan forces in Benghazi after strongman Khalifa Haftar – a former soldier under the Gaddafi regime who has risen through the ranks to commander of the Libyan National Army – declared victory in the eastern city.

Scroll down for video 

Executioners, thought to be from the Libyan National Army, take aim at their targets - supposedly ISIS fighters in the country 

Executioners, thought to be from the Libyan National Army, take aim at their targets – supposedly ISIS fighters in the country

The killers spray their targets with bullets long after they have fallen to the ground in a heap

The killers spray their targets with bullets long after they have fallen to the ground in a heap

Eighteen blindfolded prisoners in Guantanamo Bay-style jumpsuits line up to face their deaths

Eighteen blindfolded prisoners in Guantanamo Bay-style jumpsuits line up to face their deaths

The gruesome video, seen by MailOnline, shows all 18 men in orange jumpsuits falling to the floor after being shot, but it it not clear who is pulling the trigger and giving the orders.

It is claimed by the Libyan Express the commander of the eastern Saiqa Force of Operation Dignity Mahmoud Al-Werfalli conducted the massacre.

He was also said to have ordered the killings by the Libyan Observer, who reported he had been promoted by Haftar, leader of the Libyan National Army, for his alleged role in killing policemen in May.

Image result for Khalifa Haftar, photos

Khalifa Haftar

It is understood those killed were ISIS fighters in Libya, according to Al Jazeera, who again claimed it was Al-Werfalli reading the charges before his proteges shoot the detainees dead.

In the video, a man can be seen reading from a piece of paper and men in military uniform can be seen walking up to their targets, taking one each, and unleashing a flurry of bullets on the command of their leader.

The kneeling men fall to the ground face-first, which doesn’t stop the gunmen from shooting.

Eventually, they turn on their heels and walk back together in a line before a new set of executioners walk forward and kill the next line of prisoners.

A man in an orange jumpsuit located in the second line appears to fall forward in an attempt to fool the executioners, but he is dragged back onto his knees and callously shot in the head in the second round of killings.

The sequence continues until all 18 men are dead.

The first row of prisoners are taken out by the first line of executioners in the video dated July 17

The first row of prisoners are taken out by the first line of executioners in the video dated July 17

Five prisoners lay face-down in the dirt after being shot in the back of the head at point-blank range

Five prisoners lay face-down in the dirt after being shot in the back of the head at point-blank range

Dust rises from the ground in the desert as the executioners stand behind the men they have killed

Dust rises from the ground in the desert as the executioners stand behind the men they have killed

Executioners holding up their semi-automatic assault rifles before pulling the trigger and killing their targets

Executioners holding up their semi-automatic assault rifles before pulling the trigger and killing their targets

The video is dated July 17, which means it would have come just days after the UN’s human rights spokeswoman Liz Throssell said called for the Libyan National Army (LNA) which controls the eastern part of the country to investigate summary executions of prisoners.

The UN’s human rights body and voiced concern at the fate of those still in their custody.

The LNA is pushing to expand its presence in central and southern Libya, where it has been vying for control with forces linked to the UN-backed government in Tripoli and other opponents.

LNA leader Khalifa Haftar has gained ground with Egyptian and Emirati support, and Western states say Haftar must be part of any solution to Libya’s conflict

UN human rights spokeswoman Liz Throssell said: ‘We are deeply concerned that, after recent fighting in Benghazi, people taken prisoner by members of the Libyan National Army, which effectively controls eastern Libya, may be at imminent risk of torture and even summary execution.

‘Reports have suggested the involvement of Special Forces, a unit aligned with the LNA, in torturing detainees and summarily executing at least 10 captured men.’

A member of the self-styled Libyan National Army, loyal to the country's east strongman Khalifa Haftar, rides in a tank as it drives down a street through the rubble in Benghazi's central Akhribish district on July 19, 2017 following clashes with militants

A member of the self-styled Libyan National Army, loyal to the country’s east strongman Khalifa Haftar, rides in a tank as it drives down a street through the rubble in Benghazi’s central Akhribish district on July 19, 2017 following clashes with militants

Smoke billows from buildings during clashes between members of the self-styled Libyan National Army, loyal to the country's east strongman Khalifa Haftar, and militants in Benghazi's central Akhribish district on July 19, 2017

A picture shows a damaged building in Benghazi's central Akhribish district on July 19, 2017.
Libyan military strongman Khalifa Haftar on July 5, 2017, announced the "total liberation" of second city Benghazi, which was overrun by jihadists three years ago

A picture shows a damaged building in Benghazi’s central Akhribish district on July 19, 2017.Libyan military strongman Khalifa Haftar on July 5, 2017, announced the ‘total liberation’ of second city Benghazi, which was overrun by jihadists three years ago

The Libyan National Army announced last March that it would conduct investigations into alleged war crimes but has not shared any information, Throssell said.

‘We urge the LNA to ensure there is a full, impartial investigation into these allegations,’ she said.

Throssell also called on the group to suspend Mahmoud al-Werfalli from his duties as a Special Forces field commander pending the conclusion of such an investigation.

A video circulating on social media in March allegedly showed al-Werfalli shooting dead three men who were kneeling and facing a wall with their hands tied behind their backs, Throssell said.

In June, two further videos appeared to show summary executions carried out by LNA fighters on his orders.

‘One of these videos, which emerged on 9 June, shows four men kneeling with their hands tied behind their backs who are shot dead as al-Werfalli watches,’ she said.

‘The latest video, which was posted on social media this month, seems to shows LNA fighters kicking and taunting prisoners, while al-Werfalli is apparently heard accusing two men who have their hands tied behind their backs of belonging to terrorist groups,’ she said.

The LNA has declined comment on the images.

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Rights Group Calls for Probe Into Libyan Forces After Execution Video Shown — “Apparent war crimes” HRW says

July 24, 2017

CAIRO — Libya officials should investigate and dismiss forces involved in atrocities, a human rights group said on Monday, after a video appeared on social media purportedly showing a military unit executing 20 suspected militants.

The video was seen by Reuters on social media but it could not be independently verified. It appears to show a military unit linked to eastern commander Khalifa Haftar executing 20 hooded men they accuse of being Islamic State militants found guilty of bombings and killings.

Image result for Khalifa Haftar, photos

Khalifa Haftar

The video is the latest that appears to show Haftar’s Libyan National Army troops engaged in summary executions of suspected militants. An LNA spokesman in Benghazi declined to comment on the video but it has previously denied its forces are involved.

Image result for Khalifa Haftar executing 20 hooded men, photos

Khalifa Haftar appears in an “execution video” like this one from the Islamic State

“This latest mass execution, if confirmed, would be one more in a string of atrocities committed by members of the Libyan National Army forces and is yet another manifestation of how its members are taking the law into their own hands,” Eric Goldstein, Middle East and North Africa deputy director for Human Rights Watch, said.

The video was released in a week when Haftar and Fayez al-Serraj, the leader of Libya’s U.N.-backed government, are due to meet French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris for talks over a political agreement to end the factional fighting.

Haftar and his allies have rejected the authority of Serraj’s government in Tripoli that is supported by other armed factions and presented by Libya’s Western partners as the solution to the country’s crisis.

POWER STRUGGLE

Haftar’s LNA is one of the most powerful military forces in the country, gaining ground in the east and the south with the support of Egypt and United Arab Emirates who back his campaign against Islamist militants.

Libya has had no national army, despite the name of Haftar’s group, since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in a 2011 civil war sent the state spiralling into a power struggle among competing brigades of former rebels each backing rival political factions.

Goldstein said the LNA and the Libyan government needed to remove from duty those accused of violations and hold them accountable if found guilty after a transparent investigation.

“A failure to do so risks implicating senior military commanders in these apparent war crimes,” he said.

The video purports to show an LNA commander reading out a statement before rows of men kneeling in orange jumpsuits with black hoods over their heads and their hands bound. LNA forces move row by row to fire into the back of their heads and bodies.

“Executed by firing squad after they were found guilty,” a caption on the video reads.

The video did not explain how the men had been found guilty, but armed groups in Libya often say they are legitimate forces that carry out their own investigations, and have been accused of torturing and abusing prisoners.

An LNA special forces commander, Mahmoud al-Werfalli, appears in the video. The United Nations has previously called for the LNA to dismiss him after a video in March allegedly showed al-Werfalli shooting dead three men who were kneeling and facing a wall with their hands tied behind their backs.

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Mahmoud al-Werfalli, at right

In June, two further videos appeared to show summary executions carried out by LNA fighters on his orders.

Earlier this month, the U.N. human rights body called on the LNA to investigate summary executions of prisoners and torture of those still in captivity. In March, the LNA said it would investigate potential war crimes but has not released any details of the probe.

The U.N. human rights office had no immediate comment about the latest video.

(Reporting by Patrick Markey)

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Libya’s Top Strongmen Meet in Paris With Macron

July 24, 2017

Image may contain: 2 people, people standing and suit

Libya’s two strongmen: Fayez al-Sarraj meets Khalifa Haftar — File photo from AFP

PARIS (AFP) – Libya’s UN-backed Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj will hold talks near Paris on Tuesday with Khalifa Haftar, the powerful military commander based in the country’s east, the French presidency said.

French President Emmanuel Macron will host the meeting, the presidency said in a statement on Monday.

“France intends, through this initiative, to facilitate a political agreement” between the two rivals as the newly appointed UN envoy for Libya, Ghassam Salame, takes office, the statement said.

Tuesday’s talks, which were first reported by France’s Journal du Dimanche newspaper on Sunday, would be the second between Sarraj and Haftar in the space of three months after they met in Abu Dhabi in May.

Sarraj this month laid out a new political roadmap for his violence-wracked country, including the scheduling of presidential and parliamentary elections in March 2018.

Political rivalry and fighting between militias have hampered Libya’s recovery from the chaos that followed the 2011 uprising that toppled and longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi, who was killed in the aftermath.

Sarraj’s Government of National Accord has been struggling to assert its authority since it began work in Tripoli in March 2016. Haftar’s rival administration based in the remote east has refused to recognise it.

Western intelligence services fear that Islamic State jihadists are capitalising on the chaos to set up bases in Libya as they are chased from their former strongholds in Iraq and Syria.

Libya has also become the main springboard for migrants seeking to reach the European Union by sailing to Italy in often flimsy and overloaded boats.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told newspaper Le Monde in June that Libya was “a priority” for Macron and said there was “a security risk because of the trafficking of all kinds, including humans” from Libya.

“In consultation with all its partners, France intends to show its support for the efforts to build a political compromise, under the aegis of the United Nations, which unites… all the different Libyan actors,” Monday’s statement from the Elysee Palace said.

“The challenge is to build a state capable of meeting the basic needs of Libyans and endowed with a regular unified army under the authority of the civil power.

“It is necessary for the control of Libyan territory and its borders, to fight terrorist groups and arms and migrant traffickers, but also with a view to a return to a stable institutional life.”

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France to Host Talks With Libya’s Premier Amid Falling Poll Number for Macron, Firing of Top French General, Budget Cuts

July 24, 2017

PARIS — France said it will host talks on Tuesday between Fayez al-Serraj, head of Libya’s U.N.-backed government in Tripoli, and Khalifa Haftar, a powerful military commander in the divided country’s east who has so far rejected his authority.

During the talks, President Emmanuel Macron aims to show France’s support for U.N-backed efforts to stabilize the country, “which would based upon the involvement of all the different factions in Libya,” his office said in a statement.

Unconfirmed reports of the talks had been circulating since last week.

(Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; editing by John Stonestreet)

Image may contain: 2 people, people standing and suit

Libya’s two strongmen: Fayez al-Sarraj meets Khalifa Haftar

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Popularity tumbles for France’s Macron: poll

Popularity tumbles for France's Macron: poll
Photo: AFP
A poll out Sunday shows the popularity rating of France’s new President Emmanuel Macron has slumped 10 points to hit 54 percent over the past month.

While Macron has made a strong start on the world stage and won a solid majority in parliament, his first three months in power have not been completely trouble-free.

He was widely criticised by opponents and the press as heavy-handed after a row over budget cuts that ended with the resignation of a highly-regarded military chief.

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President Macron and Pierre de Villiers clashed over the French military’s budget. Now de Villiers is gone and Macron’s poll numbers have slipped

The 39-year-old leader has also backed a controversial bill to toughen France’s security laws that includes measures some rights groups have branded as draconian.

His majority in parliament has drawn concern, with opponents and several newspapers expressing concern over the concentration of power in the presidency.

According to an Ifop poll carried out for Journal du Dimanche newspaper, the number of French people satisfied with his performance fell 10 points from 64 percent in June.

Macron’s Prime Minister Edouard Philippe marked an eight point drop to hit 56 percent of French people happy with him, said the poll of 1,947 adults carried out from July 17th-22nd.

France’s youngest-ever president, who has sought to project an image of authority since taking office in May, made clear during the row with the military boss that he would brook no insubordination as commander-in-chief.

The leftist Liberation newspaper said Macron’s “little authoritarian fit” could be a sign he was drunk on power and said it was time for him “to grow up a bit”.

A relative newcomer to politics who won election on a tide of disaffection with mainstream politics, Macron has enjoyed a honeymoon with voters, drawing particular praise for standing up to US President Donald Trump and Russia’s Vladimir Putin.