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US pledges to support Libya unity regime under UN plan

Trump met Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj in Washington [Getty]

Date of publication: 2 December, 2017

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President Donald Trump welcomed Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj to the White House shortly after the Libyan visited the State Department for talks with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

The United States renewed its support for Libya's UN-backed government and urged all parties in the country to get behind efforts to organise elections.

President Donald Trump welcomed Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj to the White House shortly after the Libyan visited the State Department for talks with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

After the first meeting, Tillerson's spokeswoman issued a statement supporting "the Libyan people's efforts to build a more stable, unified, and prosperous future."

To that end, Tillerson promised continuing US support for Sarraj's Government of National Accord (GNA), which still struggles to exert control across a Libya beset by factional fighting.

UN envoy Ghassan Salame has advanced a plan to encourage national reconciliation and a move towards national polls that might finally unify Libya under one elected regime.

"Secretary Tillerson underscored that the United States continues to urge all Libyan parties to engage constructively with Special Representative Salame's mediation," the State Department said.

On Thursday, Sarraj told US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis that he hopes a UN arms embargo can be eased.

The United Nations has enforced the embargo since the 2011 Libyan revolution that saw the ouster of Qaddafi regime.

During a meeting at the Pentagon, Sarraj told Mattis that Libya has made progress against Islamist extremists and the Islamic State group.

"We are also facing another challenge, which is the lack of capabilities and means, and this includes also the embargo on the armament that the National Accord Government is facing," he said. 

"We hope that this embargo will be partially ended, at least against some of the military branches such as the presidential guard and the coast guard so that they can complete their mission."

Despite international support, Sarraj’s UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) has struggled to impose its authority in Libya in the face of opposition from a rival eastern-based administration backed by military strongman Khalifa Haftar.

In September, the United Nations launched a new plan to bring stability to Libya, which has been in chaos since the 2011 NATO-backed popular revolt against Qaddafi.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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