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Libya 'wants to expand economic, development cooperation' with US

Libya said it wants to expand economic and development cooperation with Washington [Getty]

Date of publication: 1 June, 2018

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Libya's Government of National Accord (GNA) said it wanted to expand economic and development cooperation with Washington.

Libya's UN-backed government called for "further cooperation" with the US on Thursday, after meeting an American delegation in the capital Tripoli.

Libya's Government of National Accord (GNA) said it wanted to expand economic and development cooperation with Washington, according to a statement published on Facebook.

The comments come after Libya Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj met with US Charge D'affaires Stephanie Williams and Thomas Waldhauser, commander of US armed forces in Africa.

Libya has been rocked with violence and chaos since the NATO-backed armed uprising that toppled and killed dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

The violence also claimed the lives of US ambassador Chris Stevens and another American diplomat, when their consulate in the eastern city of Benghazi was attacked in 2012.

Since the uprising, the United States has spent $635 million supporting the country, according to Williams.

"Over the last year, the United States has increased bilateral assistance to Libya to improve airport security, border security, policing, prison management, and demining capacity," the US envoy said in a statement.

Libya continues to be divided by rival powers, and Williams said US support alone would not solve the country's problems.

"The only lasting solution for Libya is to overcome its political impasse," she said.

"The United States believes that elections should occur as soon as possible, but must be well prepared to avoid further instability," Williams added.

Since Libya's uprising numerous jihadi militias have emerged, including the Islamic State group which in 2015 seized control of Sirte to the east of Tripoli.

The GNA retook the city the December 2016 with aerial support from the US army.

Waldhauser told the Tripoli meeting that "the hunt for terrorist goes on" in Libya, according to the Facebook post by his hosts.

"AFRICOM forces intercepts and pursues the gatherings of these terrorists, which they target in total coordination with the GNA," he said, in reference to the US forces in Africa.

In late March a senior al-Qaeda operative was killed in a US airstrike in southern Libya, which officials said was coordinated with Sarraj's government.

But the bilateral meeting came days after Sarraj travelled to Paris to meet with three other Libyan leaders, agreeing to unify parallel institutions and hold elections in December.

The Paris meeting brought together Sarraj and 75-year-old military strongman Khalifa Haftar, whose rival Libyan National Army dominates the country's east.

Representatives of 20 countries, including both regional and European powers, the US and international organisations also met at the Elysee Palace.

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