New UN delegate to Libya said UNSMIL to resume work from Tripoli
The new UN envoy to Libya on Saturday started his first visit to the conflict-plagued North African country with a pledge to “respect” its sovereignty and unity.
Ghassan Salame, a Lebanese academic and former culture minister, takes over from Martin Kobler with the task of leading political unity talks between rival factions in the deeply divided country.
He flew in to Mitiga airport, a former air base in Tripoli, and held talks with Fayez al-Sarraj, the embattled head of a UN-backed Government of National Accord contested by a rival administration in eastern Libya.
“I assume my role with the utmost respect for the national sovereignty, independence and unity of Libya,” Salame told a news conference flanked by Sarraj at the prime minister’s office in the capital.
The talks focused on the economic, political and security “challenges” facing Libya since its 2011 uprising that ousted and killed longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi, the UN envoy said.
Salame said the meeting with Sarraj, also attended by Foreign Minister Mohamed al-Taher Siala, had been “constructive” and that they had “agreed on the urgency to end the suffering of the Libyan people”.
The UN mission would return in stages to its headquarters in Tripoli, which it had left in the aftermath of fierce fighting in 2014 between rival militias.
Sarraj said he briefed Salame on an agreement he reached with military strongman Khalifa Haftar, who is based in the east and backs the rival administration, for a ceasefire, political talks and elections.
The deal was struck last month at talks hosted by French President Emmanual Macron, and it has been endorsed by the UN Security Council.
It is the latest attempt to put an end to six years of chaos in oil-rich Libya where rival militias and administrations have been vying to control the country’s wealth and cities.
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