Libyan eastern commander Khalifa Haftar has told French President Emmanuel Macron that an inclusive political dialogue was necessary and he would be ready for it if the conditions for a ceasefire were in place.
The flare-up in the conflict in Libya began in early April, when Haftar’s Libyan National Army advanced on the capital Tripoli.
Macron and French officials have for weeks repeated their official support for the Government of National Accord and have called for an unconditional ceasefire. But some European countries, including France, have also supported Haftar as a way to fight extremist militants in the country.
“The distrust we see between the Libyan actors is stronger than ever today,” said the official after the meeting between Macron and Haftar in Paris.
“When the question of the ceasefire was put on the table, Haftar’s reaction to this was to ask: ‘negotiate with whom for a ceasefire today?’” the official said.
“He (Haftar) considers that the GNA is completely infested by militias and it is not for him to negotiate with representatives of these militias,” the official said.
Speaking on Euronews television on Wednesday, Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj also appeared to rule out a ceasefire, warning that the fighting would not stop until Haftar’s troops had pulled back east.
The United Nations’ Libya envoy, Ghassan Salame, said on Tuesday the current fighting could be the start of a long and bloody conflict in the country that could permanently divide it.
“We can clearly see the impasse that exists today between the desire of the international community to say that there must be a ceasefire and a resumption of political discussions and the way in which Haftar sees things with his explanation of the lack of legitimacy of the interlocutors (on the other side),” the French official said.
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