Berlin to host international conference on Libya

BERLIN, Germany – Berlin will host world leaders for a UN-sponsored summit on the conflict in Libya this weekend, the German government confirmed Tuesday, January 14.

Representatives from 11 countries – including the US, Russia, France, China and Turkey – have been invited to Sunday's talks.

It remained unclear whether the leaders of the two warring factions, the internationally recognised prime minister Fayez al-Sarraj and rebel strongman General Khalifa Haftar, would attend. Both have been invited.

"The aim of this process is... to support the efforts of the United Nations for a sovereign Libya and for the reconciliation process within Libya," Chancellor Angela Merkel's office said in a statement.

There had already been "several rounds of talks on Libya among high level officials" in the German capital in recent months, the statement added.

According to a source close to the discussions, the Sunday summit also aimed to help Libya "sort out its problems without foreign influence" and "reduce outside interventions".

Diplomatic sources suggested that a deployment of UN peacekeeping forces in Libya was unlikely.

Tuesday's announcement came just hours after General Haftar left talks with al-Sarraj in Moscow without signing a planned long-term truce.

Moscow later said that the two sides had agreed to maintain the fragile ceasefire in effect since last weekend.

According to German media, Sunday's talks may focus on discouraging foreign countries from supplying arms to the warring factions.

Foreign powers are involved on both sides of the civil war in Libya, and some have been accused of breaking a UN arms embargo on the country.

In January, Turkey sent troops – it claimed in a training capacity – to support al-Sarraj's government.

Russia has been accused of backing pro-Haftar forces, which are also supported by the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

Since Haftar's forces began an offensive on the capital Tripoli, some 280 civilians have been killed, as well as 2,000 fighters, according to UN figures.

The conflict has forced 150,000 Libyans to flee their homes. – Rappler.com