Egyptian President Meets Libyan Commander Haftar in Cairo
By Staff, Agencies
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi Sunday met in Cairo with the commander of eastern-based Libyan forces Khalifa Haftar, who is under international pressure to halt an advance on the capital Tripoli.
The African neighboring country has close ties with Haftar, whose Libyan National Army controls the east and swept through the mainly desert south earlier this year before moving to Tripoli 10 days ago in a major escalation of conflict.
His move is the latest in a cycle of conflict and anarchy since the 2011 toppling of former dictator Muammar Gadhafi.
Egypt and the United Arab Emirates publicly support UN-led peace efforts in Libya, while being seen as Haftar’s closest regional allies. Sisi, a former army chief, has led a far-reaching crackdown in Egypt and has blamed Libya-based militants for some cross-border attacks.
A statement from Sisi’s office did not mention Haftar’s offensive directly but “confirmed Egypt’s support for efforts to combat terrorism and extremist groups and militias in order to achieve security and stability for the Libyan citizen.”
The Egyptian Presidency further released photos showing Haftar, dressed in a blue suit, sitting with Sisi and his head of intelligence Abbas Kamel.
Haftar, a former general in Gadhafi’s army who later turned against him, had long talked of a move on Tripoli, in Libya’s west, where an internationally recognized government sits.
His campaign has disrupted efforts by the United Nations to bring rival eastern and western administrations to the negotiating table to plan an election and end the turmoil.
Sunday was the day the United Nations had hoped to hold a national conference in the southwestern town of Ghadames.
The fighting has killed 121 people, mainly fighters, and wounded another 561, according to UN tallies. Some 13,600 people have fled their homes.
Fighting in recent days has been taking place on the outskirts of Tripoli as LNA forces have been bogged down by groups aligned with the Government of National Accord.