Russia to reopen its embassy in Libya, says FM Lavrov

Embassy head will temporarily be based in Tunisia, Interfax news agency cited Lavrov as saying ahead of Saleh meeting.

    Renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar's LNA is supported by the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Russia [Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters]
    Renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar's LNA is supported by the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Russia [Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters]

    Russia has decided to reopen its embassy in Libya although its head will temporarily be based in neighbouring Tunisia, Interfax news agency cited Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov as saying.

    Russia evacuated its diplomats from Libya in October 2013 after an armed faction attacked its embassy in Tripoli.

    Lavrov, speaking at a meeting with the speaker of Libya's pro-Khalifa Haftar eastern Parliament, Aguila Saleh, on Friday, reiterated Russia's desire for a cessation of hostilities in Libya and the beginning of political dialogue.

    "We took a decision to reopen the Russian embassy in Libya, which will at this stage be headed by Charge d'Affaires Jamshed Boltaev," he said. "He will temporarily be based in Tunisia, but I want to emphasise that his functions include representing Russia across all Libya's territory."

    Libya has been torn apart by violence drawing in tribal fighters and foreign actors since the 2011 toppling and killing of longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi in a Western-backed uprising.

    The oil-rich country is split between rival administrations in the east and west, with the conflict recently attracting increasing foreign involvement.

    The UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) is based in the capital, Tripoli, while renegade military commander Haftar, in the country's second city Benghazi, rules the east. 

    Lavrov also said a ceasefire in the Libyan conflict, proposed by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi alongside Haftar in Cairo on June 6, could work alongside decisions taken at an international conference in Berlin regarding the situation in the North African country. 

    The GNA is backed by Turkey while Haftar's self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) is supported by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt and Russia. 

    In recent weeks, the GNA, with the support of Turkey, has made major military gains, forcing Haftar's forces to retreat after regaining control over Tripoli and Tarhuna, in addition to other strategic locations, including the al-Watiya airbase.

    The GNA has since launched a military operation to take the central coastal city of Sirte and Jufra further south.

    The internationally-recognised government in Tripoli has been under attack by Haftar's forces since April 2019, with more than 1,000 people killed in the violence.

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    SOURCE: News agencies