World powers are meeting in Berlin on Wednesday to seek lasting peace in Libya by ensuring the conflict-racked North African country stays firmly on the path towards general elections on December 24
Representatives of Libya’s interim government will join US Secretary of State Antony Blinken as well as the foreign ministers of France and Egypt at the United Nations-sponsored talks.
The efforts to end a decade-long spiral of violence in Libya would be the second round in Berlin, after the first attended by the presidents of Turkey, Russia and France in January 2020.
Ahead of Wednesday’s talks, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas reminded participants of pledges made last year for an end to international meddling and for foreign fighters or troops to withdraw.
“Those who promised to withdraw last time in Berlin have not kept their word,” said Maas in an interview with Die Welt daily.
“For the Libyans to determine the fate of their country again, the foreign forces must leave. The transitional government has also made that clear,” he stressed.
The UN estimates 20,000 foreign fighters and mercenaries are still in Libya – a presence seen as a threat to the UN-recognised transition leading to the elections.
Libya has been racked with chaos since a NATO-backed uprising toppled longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
The country was subsequently split between the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) in the capital, Tripoli, and a rival administration based in the country’s east, each backed by armed groups and foreign governments.
In April 2019, renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar and his eastern-based forces, backed by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, launched an offensive to try and capture Tripoli.
His 14-month-long campaign collapsed after Turkey stepped up its support of the Tripoli government with advanced military hardware, troops and thousands of mercenaries.