Germany aims to host Libya conference to stabilize oil producer

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Germany aims to host a conference about Libya this year in conjunction with the United Nations to try to stabilize the oil-producing country, where rival factions have been fighting over the capital, Germany’s ambassador to Libya said on Wednesday.

The plans, which are still in the early stages according to diplomats, are the first major diplomatic push since eastern forces loyal to Khalifa Haftar in April launched an offensive to take Tripoli, held by the UN-recognized Government of National Accord’s (GNA) Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj.

The campaign has displaced more than 120,000 people and derailed years of UN peace efforts but gone nowhere as Haftar’s Libya National Army (LNA) has been unable to breach Tripoli’s southern suburbs.

UN Libya envoy Ghassan Salame last month unveiled plans for an international conference to bring together foreign powers backing rival groups on the ground, without naming a venue.

“Germany therefore initiated a consultation process with key international partners. With sufficient preparatory work these efforts could lead towards a meaningful international event this fall,” Oliver Owcza, Germany’s ambassador, said on Twitter.

He gave no details on the event, announced just after German Chancellor Angela Merkel told parliament the situation in the north African country risked destabilizing the whole of Africa.

Diplomatic sources said the event would be held in Berlin in October or November.

Salame thinks Germany can mediate, as it is seen as impartial in the conflict, in contrast to France and Italy, which have been competing for influence and have vast oil and gas interests in Libya, diplomats say.

Both countries brought Haftar and Serraj, along with regional players, together at summits in Paris and Palermo last year, but failed to achieve a breakthrough.

“Germany would be a good idea for the fact that it hasn’t been exactly involved in supporting either side of the conflict but also because of its influence in the European Union and beyond,” said Emad Badi, a Libya researcher.

The conference’s goal would be to push foreign players to enforce an existing arms embargo and for a ceasefire to allow Libyans to hold talks on power-sharing and eventual elections, diplomats say.

The Turkish delegation withdrew at the last conference held by Italy after Turkey Vice President Fuat Oktay was not allowed to join meetings among Haftar, Sarraj, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and the Europeans.

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