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Cautious optimism as world leaders kick off Libya conference in Germany

Libya has been in conflict for many years [Getty]

Date of publication: 19 January, 2020

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Germany is hosting a conference that brings together the most prominent players in Libya’s long-running civil war.
Germany is bringing together the key players in Libya’s long-running civil war on Sunday, seeking to curb foreign military interference, solidify a ceasefire and help relaunch a political process to stop the chaos in the North African nation.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel invited leaders from 12 countries as well as the United Nations, the European Union, the African Union and the Arab League to the summit at the chancellery in Berlin.

Germany’s months-long diplomatic drive seeks to bolster efforts to stop the fighting in Libya by United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and his envoy for Libya, Ghassan Salame.

Among those expected are Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, French President Emmanuel Macron, Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. 

Also invited are Libya's two main rival leaders: Prime Minister Fayez Sarraj and warlord Khalifa Haftar, who are both expected to attend.

Erdogan on Sunday said he hoped for an "important step" to cement Libya's fragile ceasefire at an international peace conference in Germany.

"We see the Berlin summit as an important step on the way to cementing the ceasefire and a political solution," Erdogan told reporters at an Istanbul airport before leaving to attend the talks. 

Progress in peace efforts after the January ceasefire "should not be sacrificed to the ambitions of blood and chaos merchants", he said.

Haftar launched an offensive last April against Tripoli, seat of the UN recognised Government of National Accord.

After months of combat killing more than 2,000 people a ceasefire took effect on January 12 backed by both Turkey and Russia, which is accused of supporting Haftar.

Ankara strongly supports the Tripoli government led by al-Sarraj and sent troops to Libya after signing military and maritime deals with the GNA.

Erdogan, who is already angry over Haftar's abandoning ceasefire talks in Moscow early this week, also slammed Greece for hosting the Libyan commander.

Haftar paid a surprise visit to Athens on Thursday.

Erdogan accused Greece of acting with "revenge" after it was not invited to the Berlin talks.

"Greece is seriously disturbed because it was not invited to Germany," Erdogan said. 

And he said Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis was playing a "wrong game" and taking "wrong steps" on Libya.

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