German minister: Libya’s Haftar willing to adopt ceasefire

By Carsten Hoffmann, dpa

Khalifa Haftar has agreed in principle to a ceasefire in Libya, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said after talks with the rebel general in Benghazi.

“He agreed – even if he did not sign the ceasefire agreement at the start of the week in Moscow – to adhere to the ceasefire,” Maas said.

“That is extremely important,” he added.

Germany’s top diplomat met Haftar on Thursday after talks between Haftar and his rival, Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj, earlier in the week in Moscow ended in disappointment, with a ceasefire deal left unsigned.

Pressure has been mounting on Germany ahead of an international conference in Berlin on Sunday to bring strongman Haftar and al-Serraj to the table.

Haftar agreed in principle to attending the Berlin conference during his talks with Maas on Thursday.

Libya has been in turmoil since the 2011 overthrow of long-time dictator Moamer Gaddafi.

The oil-rich country has two competing administrations: the weak UN-backed government of al-Serraj in Tripoli and the other, based in the eastern city of Tobruk, allied with Haftar.

Italy and France have also tried to bring the warring parties together, without lasting success.

French President Emmanuel Macron will attend the Libyan peace conference in Berlin, a source in the Elysee Palace said.

France’s relations with al-Serraj’s Government of National Accord (GNA) have declined over the past year, after Paris backed an offensive by Haftar in southern Libya. France denies, however, GNA allegations that it supported the offensive on Tripoli launched by Haftar in April.

Maas called the Berlin conference “the best chance” for launching peace talks ahead of his meeting with Haftar.

“I hope that the parties use this opportunity to take the future of Libya back into Libyan hands,” he added.

European countries are eager to de-escalate the Libya conflict since chaos in the North African country has made it a major transit point for migrants on their way to Europe via the Mediterranean.

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