French, German FMs in Libya to back unity govt

Author : Mircea Birca | Monday, April 18, 2016
Posted in category Africa, Africa News, Eurasia, Eurasia News
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The foreign ministers of France and Germany made an unannounced visit on Saturday to Tripoli in a show of support for the new unity government striving to bridge Libya’s deep political divisions.

World powers see the Government of National Accord (GNA) as a crucial partner in tackling jihadists behind a string of deadly attacks in Libya as well as human traffickers exploiting the country’s turmoil.

France’s Jean-Marc Ayrault and Germany’s Frank-Walter Steinmeier flew into the capital amid tight security for talks with the UN-backed cabinet which has set up operations at a naval base in the city.

Steinmeier described the visit as a signal that the international community is united behind the GNA.

“The way to peace and stability is through the implementation of the peace agreement and the government of national unity,” Steinmeier said in remarks released by his ministry.

It is the latest in a flurry of visits by European diplomats who had been absent since 2014 when EU member states closed their Tripoli embassies as fighting shook the North African nation.

Their return was prompted by the arrival of UN-backed prime minister-designate Fayez al-Sarraj on March 30 by sea with a naval escort, after a rival Tripoli authority shut the airspace to try to keep him out.

“France was one of the first countries to back Sarraj, and the time has come to give a new impetus to that support,” a French diplomat said.

The visit comes two days before a crucial vote by the country’s recognised parliament on whether to endorse the GNA, and ahead of talks in Luxembourg next week on a possible EU mission to assist Libya’s police and border guards.

Italy’s Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni hailed the unity government as a “game changer” when he visited Tripoli on Tuesday.

The British, French and Spanish ambassadors flew in for talks two days later, saying they were working towards reopening their diplomatic missions there.

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