Spain throws support behind Libya's political process
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said Thursday on a visit to Tripoli that Madrid wanted to support Libya's political process, in the latest trip to the country by a high-level European official.
Libya is seeking to extricate itself from a decade of chaos and conflict that followed the toppling of dictator Muammar Gaddafi in the 2011 NATO-backed uprising.
A flurry of diplomatic activity has broken out since a new transitional unity government was installed earlier this year, following an October ceasefire between rival camps in the country's east and west.
Libya's interim executive is charged with organising legislative and presidential elections set for December.
"This is a historic moment for Libya, a great opportunity, and Spain wants to be at its side," Sanchez said during a news conference with interim Libyan Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibah.
Sanchez said Spain wanted to support Libya's election process, and announced it would "contribute to the Libyan ceasefire monitoring mechanism to guarantee security and the upholding of peace".
The two sides also announced the reopening of Spain's embassy in Tripoli which has been shut since 2014. It follows moves from several countries including France and Greece in recent months.
Sanchez, who was accompanied by a business delegation, also met several Libyan officials to discuss Spain's "role in Libya's reconstruction and development".
Dbeibah, a wealthy businessman, said he wanted to "encourage Spanish businesses operating in Libya, such as Repsol, to expand their activities beyond the hydrocarbons sector".
Energy giant Repsol constitutes Spain's main economic presence in oil-rich Libya.
On Tuesday, company officials held a videoconference with Mustafa Sanalla, head of Libya's National Oil Corporation (NOC), and discussed ways of "introducing renewable energy in the Libyan oil sector", an NOC statement said.
Dbeibah announced the "reactivation of a joint committee that has not met since 2008 to restart and update old (bilateral) agreements".
"Today, we have signed memorandums of understanding in several fields including education, training and trade," he said.
Libya was thrown into a decade of violence following the 2011 overthrow of dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
Berlin hosted the first round of the UN-sponsored talks on January 19, 2020, gathering leaders of warring Libyan sides as well as the presidents of Russia, Turkey, France and Egypt to bid for peace in the conflict-torn country.
At that conference, world leaders committed to ending all foreign meddling in the conflict and to uphold a weapons embargo.
Since then, a formal truce last October has led to the creation of an interim government tasked with unifying Libya's divided institutions, launching reconstruction efforts and preparing for December polls.
According to the UN, more than 20,000 foreign mercenaries and military personnel are still in Libya. They include Turkish, Russian, Sudanese and Chadian mercenaries.
Unlike the Russian mercenaries who supported the authorities in the east of the country, Turkey says its troops sent to Tripoli were sent under a bilateral agreement with the government, implying that they are not affected by a request for foreign troops to leave.