Macron, Putin discuss Turkish interference in Libya, Russian mercenaries

French President Emmanuel Macron talks to Russian President Vladimir Putin during a video conference on June 26, 2020. (AFP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin and French counterpart Emmanuel Macron called on Friday for a ceasefire in Libya and a return to dialogue, the Kremlin said in a statement following a phone call between the two leaders.

Meanwhile, Macron said he was confident of progress in key areas with Russia, including notably the crisis in Libya, his office said on Friday after a two-hour video conference summit with Putin.

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Macron is “confident that we can make progress with Russia on a number of subjects,” a senior French presidential official told reporters, citing “a common interest in the stabilization of Libya and the reunification of its institutions.”

Their talks came after Macron this week bitterly attacked Turkey’s intervention in the Libya conflict, which has tipped the balance away from General Khalifa Haftar.

Russia backs Haftar, and France is also suspected of favoring him - although Paris insists it is neutral in the conflict.

Haftar has endured a series of defeats in recent weeks as Turkey ups its support for the Government of National Accord (GNA), raising doubts about the Haftar’s future.

In the talks, Macron expressed “all the worries that the reinforcement of the Turkish presence in Libya cause,” the official said.

But the official added that Macron also raised with Putin “foreign interference in Libya” including the presence of mercenaries from the Wagner group, a Russian paramilitary organization reportedly run by a confidant of Putin.

According to the Kremlin website, Putin told Macron: “I know your mindset aimed at organizing joint work on many of these subjects. We will support your proposals in any way possible.”

On Thursday, France, Germany and Italy called on forces in Libya to cease fighting and for outside parties to stop any interference in a bid to get political talks back on track.

Read more: Libya conflict: Arab League calls for withdrawal of ‘foreign forces’ in the country

Libya conflict: Sirte-Jufra ‘red line’ set to be next major flashpoint

US talks with GNA

The State Department announced that US officials held a virtual meeting on Wednesday with the Libyan Ministry of the Interior “to resume discussions on militia demobilization.”

“The end of the siege of Tripoli has created a renewed opportunity and an imperative to address militias, in the west and in the east of Libya. As part of continued US engagement with all sides, the US delegation will convene a similar conversation with [Libyan National Army] representatives,” the statement said.

The two parties affirmed that all Libyan citizens should enjoy the protection of capable and accountable security forces, free from the dangers posed by militias, armed groups, and foreign fighters, the State Department said. It added that the Ministry of Interior briefed US officials on its program for militia disarmament.

“The US delegation stressed opposition to all foreign intervention in Libya and discussed the imperative of an immediate ceasefire and return to UN-facilitated security and political negotiations,” the State Department said.

- With AFP

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Last Update: Friday, 26 June 2020 KSA 21:51 - GMT 18:51
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