Berlin to host Libya peace talks


German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Libyan peace talks will be held in Berlin, as Turkey and Russia appealed to the North African nation’s warring factions to enter a ceasefire.

“We hope joint efforts by Russia and Turkey will lead to success and we will soon send invitations for a conference in Berlin,” Merkel said during a joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow.

She stressed the UN would lead talks if a meeting were to take place in Berlin and Libya’s warring parties would need to play a major role to find a solution.

The aim was to give Libya the chance to become a sovereign and peaceful country, Merkel said.

Putin expressed support for the process, saying it was a “timely” idea and necessary to bring conflict in Libya to an end.

The comments came days after Turkey and Russia urged Libya’s warring parties to declare a ceasefire.

Fayez al-Serraj, head of Libya’s internationally recognised government, welcomed the peace initiative.

“The condition is the withdrawal of the attacking party, which does not seem willing to do so”, he said after talks with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte in Rome.

Libyan forces loyal to eastern-based commander Khalifa Haftar took control of the strategic coastal city Sirte in a rapid advance preceded by air strikes.

Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army is considered responsible for a deadly drone attack on a military academy in Tripoli.

Conte expressed his “consternation” to General Haftar for the January 4 attack in Tripoli, after meeting him in Rome earlier.

“We are working hard as a government for the immediate goal of a ceasefire and to steer the conflict to a political solution,” Conte said.

Asked if he was aware of Russian mercenaries in Libya Putin said: “If there are Russian citizens there, then they are not representing the interests of the Russian state and they are not receiving money from the Russian state.”