Egypt, Libya sign co-operation agreements

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Egypt and Libya’s unity government signed a series of co-operation agreements and infrastructure contracts as Cairo eyes reconstruction opportunities in its oil-rich neighbour.

Though Libya’s political prospects remain uncertain, the deals are the latest sign of Egyptian efforts to re-engage with Tripoli after years of siding with east Libya-based forces engaged in a conflict that split the country.

Libya was a major market for Egyptian companies and workers before uprisings in both countries in 2011.

Fourteen memorandums of understanding, signed during a visit to Cairo by Libyan Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibah, cover sectors ranging from industry and hydrocarbons to agriculture, communications and civil aviation, according to a statement from Egypt’s Cabinet.

Project contracts signed between the Libyan government and prominent Egyptian companies include a ring road around Tripoli, another road to Jalu from the eastern town Ajdabiya and construction and supply of two gas plants.

No detail is given on the value of the contracts.

Earlier, Dbeibah met Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who affirmed Egypt’s desire for stability in Libya and offered support to help the country hold national elections planned for the end of the year, according to an Egyptian presidency statement.

On Tuesday, Sisi received Khalifa Haftar, the military commander based in eastern Libya backed by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates but whose campaign to take Tripoli fell apart last year, as well as Agilah Saleh, head of a parliament based in the east.

Both are seen as potential spoilers of the UN-backed plan to hold elections by  year-end. Sisi called on them as well as Dbeibah to stick to the election timetable, two Egyptian intelligence sources said.

Egypt will face competition over commercial contracts in western Libya from Turkey, a regional rival which intervened militarily to help repel Haftar’s forces but is now trying to mend ties with Cairo.