Libyan premier, rival general in UAE for 'mediation' talks

AP News
Posted: May 02, 2017 11:09 AM

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The prime minister of Libya's U.N.-backed government and a powerful rival general met Tuesday in the United Arab Emirates in the latest effort to resolve the country's long-running conflict.

Libya's armed forces posted an image on Facebook showing Field Marshal Khalifa Hifter standing next to Prime Minister Fayez Serraj after taking part in surprise talks in Abu Dhabi, the UAE's oil-rich capital.

The two men met "a short while ago in Abu Dhabi after Arab and international mediation," a short caption for the photo said, without elaborating.

Libya TV said the two men agreed on holding presidential and parliamentary elections next year, but it's unclear how such a vote would be held in the fractured country.

Emirati officials did not immediately comment on the meeting. The UAE's military is suspected of carrying out airstrikes inside of Libya supporting Hifter and operating out of a base in the country's east near the border with Egypt.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, a close ally of Hifter, is scheduled to visit the UAE on a two-day trip beginning Wednesday. It's unclear if he'll be part of any talks. Russia also has sought to cultivate Hifter, who lived for years in the U.S.

Libya sank into chaos following the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed dictator Moammar Gadhafi. The oil-producing nation now is split between rival governments and warring militias.

The chaos has transformed the North African country into a major conduit for migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea to Europe, and the Islamic State group and other extremists have established a presence there.

Abdel-Salam Nassiya, a lawmaker based in the western town of Zintan, said one of the main issues dividing Libya's rival factions is how the country's military will be structured and commanded in the future.

"We hope this meeting leads to a breakthrough that ends the current political stalemate," he said.


Associated Press writer Maggie Michael in Cairo contributed to this report.