ALGIERS (Reuters) – Algerian Foreign Minister Sabri Boukadoum told visiting envoys from other countries neighboring Libya on Thursday that he hoped their meeting would strengthen a fragile truce in the country and help avert more foreign influence there.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry attends a meeting with foreign Ministers and officials from countries neighbouring Libya to discuss the conflict in Libya, in Algiers, Algeria January 23, 2020. REUTERS/Ramzi Boudina
“Libya’s neighbors have the responsibility to facilitate a political solution,” he added before the start of his meeting with foreign ministers or other officials from Egypt, Tunisia, Chad, Niger, Sudan and Mali.
Heiko Maas, the foreign minister of Germany, which hosted a summit on the Libyan crisis on Sunday, also joined the meeting.
The eastern Libyan military commander Khalifa Haftar launched an assault last year with his Libyan National Army (LNA) to capture Tripoli with backing from Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Russian mercenaries and African troops.
The internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) is backed by Turkey, which has sent military advisers and trainers to help its armed forces ward off Haftar’s attack.
In Berlin, foreign powers active in Libya agreed to shore up a shaky ceasefire but the meeting was overshadowed by Haftar’s blockade of energy fields.
The conflict’s recent escalation has alarmed some of Libya’s neighbors, who fear it may provide more space for armed militant groups to operate across the Sahara and the Sahel region.
“The Sahel is suffering from this crisis. Proliferation of arms in the region has facilitated the spread of terrorism,” said Chad’s Foreign Minister Mahamet Zene Cherif.
Tunisia, located between Algeria and Libya, is also concerned about a possible influx of refugees. It was not initially invited to the Berlin summit this month, causing anger among many Tunisian politicians.
It turned down a late invitation to attend, saying it had not been given time to prepare.
Reporting By Lamine Chikhi; “riting by Angus McDowall; Editing by Alex Richardson