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U.S. Officials Meet Strongman Khalifa Haftar To Resolve Libyan Conflict

Some senior U.S. officials reportedly met with Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar Monday to convince him to end his offensive on Tripoli, reported Reuters.

The U.S. delegation and Haftar discussed “steps to achieve a suspension of hostilities and a political resolution to the Libyan conflict,” the State Department said in a statement.

The delegation included Deputy National Security Advisor for Middle Eastern and North African Affairs Victoria Coates, Ambassador to Libya Richard Norland, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Affairs at the U.S. Department of Energy Matthew Zais, and USAFRICOM Deputy Director for Strategy, Engagement, and Programs Brigadier General Steven deMilliano.

The officials offered full support to maintain Libya’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and expressed serious concern over Russia’s exploitation of the conflict.

Earlier this month, the State Department – after a visit to Washington by Tripoli-based government ministers – called on Haftar to end the offensive.

“These frank discussions build on recent talks with Tripoli-based officials aiming to establish a common basis for progress between the parties on the issues that divide them, in the context of moving toward a ceasefire,” the statement read.

Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) in April launched a fight to take Tripoli, which is held by an internationally recognized government. The LNA has already seized much of eastern Libya from Islamic militants and other rivals in recent years. The battle has killed more than 1,000 people.

According to diplomats and Tripoli officials, Haftar is backed by Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and most recently Russian mercenaries. The LNA denies it has foreign backing.

Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA), which is battling with Haftar’s forces for control of Tripoli, is also known to be receiving support from Turkey.

On Saturday, Haftar declared a “no-fly zone” in the skies over the capital, drawing a warning from the country’s internationally-recognized government. The announcement was made after two unmanned aircraft were lost near Tripoli last week.

Caroline Finnegan

A professionnal journalist for the past ten years, I cover global news and economic affairs for The Chief Observer.

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