French foreign minister going to Libya to push peace deal


France’s foreign minister said he would head to Libya “very soon” to push warring parties to support a peace roadmap tentatively agreed in Paris in July.

Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj and the divided country’s eastern commander Khalifa Haftar verbally committed to a conditional ceasefire and to work towards holding elections next spring.
“I will be travelling to Libya very soon to ensure the follow-up of this meeting and to get support of all sides to the declaration adopted,” Jean-Yves Le Drian said in a speech to French ambassadors.

France, which took a leading role in the NATO air campaign that helped rebels topple Muammar Gaddafi, wants a greater role in Libya, believing diplomatic efforts were stalling and under President Emmanuel Macron it could fill that void.

Officials fear jihadist groups could try to exploit the power vacuum in Libya to regroup after losing substantial ground in Syria and Iraq and see a resolution to the conflict as vital to ending Europe’s migrant crisis.
“In Libya, France along with others has a specific responsibility to help this country find unity and stability,” Le Drian said.

Past attempts at peace deals in oil-producing Libya have been scuttled by internal divisions among the myriad of competing armed groups that have emerged since rebels toppled Gaddafi in 2011.

Diplomats declined to say specifically when Le Drian was travelling due to security reasons.

The French initiative has angered officials in Italy, which has previously taken the lead in efforts to bring peace to its former North African colony and borne the brunt of successive waves of African migrants crossing the Mediterranean from Libya.