Libya demands 'immediate' withdrawal of foreign mercenaries
The North African country descended into chaos after dictator Moammar Ghaddafi was toppled and killed in a 2011 NATO-backed uprising, resulting in multiple forces vying for power.
Fighting only came to a halt last summer, and a formal ceasefire in October was followed by the establishment last week of a new unity government led by interim Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah.
The presence of an estimated 20,000 foreign fighters and mercenaries on Libya's territory is seen as a threat to the UN-backed transition leading to December 24 elections.
Read more: What does the future hold for Haftar and the Libyan National Army?
"We reiterate the need for the departure of all mercenaries from Libya, and immediately," Libyan Foreign Minister Najla al-Mangoush said at a Tripoli news conference joined by her French, German and Italian counterparts.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian echoed her call.
"The departure of the mercenaries is essential for the Libyan state to assert its sovereignty," Le Drian he told the news conference.
The three European diplomats were in Tripoli in a show of support for the newly formed Government of National Unity, or GNU.
"We represent the EU's support for Libya as it moves towards peace," said Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio.
"Italy and Europe are still convinced that there can be no military solution to the Libyan crisis," he said.
"We reiterated the importance of maintaining the ceasefire, the reopening of the coastal road and the departure of mercenaries."
Their statements came after UN chief Antonio Guterres said in a report on Wednesday that he "remains deeply concerned" that "foreign elements" continue to operate in the North African country.
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