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France, Egypt Urge ‘Restraint’ to Avoid Libya Escalation

Near East

30 December 2019, 20:38

LIBYA-CONFLICT

France and Egypt called Monday for the “greatest restraint” by Libyan and international authorities to avoid escalating the conflict in Libya, a statement from President Emmanuel Macron’s office said, VOA news reports.

Macron held talks late Sunday with his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah al-Sissi when both agreed that warring Libyan powers need to negotiate a political solution under U.N. auspices.

The statement comes after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed readiness this month to send troops to Libya if requested by the country’s Government of National Accord (GNA).

The GNA is backed by the U.N., but the addition of Turkish troops could further inflame tensions in a country torn by the devastating campaign of strongman Khalifa Haftar and his self-styled Libyan National Army.

More than 140,000 Libyans have fled their homes since April when Haftar’s forces launched an assault on Tripoli.

U.N.-sponsored talks on the conflict are set for January in Berlin to try to end the fighting, sparked by the NATO-backed uprising that toppled dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011.

Neighboring countries like Egypt have been on high alert since then, not least against the potential for rival regional powers to exploit the turmoil.

Macron and Sissi also criticized a recent deal between Turkey and Libya over maritime boundaries in the eastern Mediterranean, calling it “against the rules of maritime law”.

Critics say the deal, part of a security and military cooperation accord with the GNA, would greatly extend Ankara’s territorial claims.

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