Egypt, UAE welcome resumption of Libya ceasefire talks

Key backers of Haftar release joint statement calling 'for parties to fully commit to the political process'.

    Egypt and the UAE are some of Haftar's key backers in his year-long offensive on Tripoli [File: Egyptian presidency via Reuters]
    Egypt and the UAE are some of Haftar's key backers in his year-long offensive on Tripoli [File: Egyptian presidency via Reuters]

    Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have said they welcome an announcement that warring factions in Libya have agreed to resume ceasefire negotiations. 

    In recent years, Egypt and the UAE have been the most prominent backers of eastern-based renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar, who has been waging an offensive to take control of the capital, Tripoli, since April 2019.

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    Haftar's military campaign against forces aligned with the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli upended previous UN-led efforts for a political settlement in Libya. 

    In recent weeks, Turkish support has allowed the GNA to retake several towns in the northwest and a strategic airbase near the Tunisian border.

    The joint statement by the Egyptian and Emirati foreign ministries "called for parties to fully commit to the political process under the auspices of the UN and the Berlin conference".

    The Berlin conference in January resulted in efforts to reach a ceasefire but that initiative stalled before this week's announcement that parties were ready to resume talks. 

    Earlier on Wednesday, Russia's RIA news agency said several senior Libyan officials, including deputy Prime Minister Ahmed Maetig, arrived in Moscow ahead of talks. 

    Russia has emerged as a key actor in the Libyan conflict.

    According to a leaked UN report, Russian private military contractor Wagner Group deployed about 1,200 mercenaries to Libya to strengthen Haftar's forces. They have been identified by their equipment, typically reserved for Russia's armed forces.

    UN monitors identified more than two dozen flights between Russia and eastern Libya from August 2018 to August 2019 by civilian aircraft "strongly linked to or owned by" Wagner Group - a Russian paramilitary organisation seen as close to President Vladimir Putin - or related companies.

    Across the Wagner Group, personnel are predominantly Russian, but also include citizens of Belarus, Moldova, Serbia and Ukraine, the UN report said.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies