A Libyan military commander waging an offensive to capture Tripoli is committed to a ceasefire, Germany said, in an apparent advance for efforts to end a near-decade of turmoil in the North African country.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, after visiting Benghazi, said commander Khalifa Haftar is willing to attend a conference in Berlin on Sunday on the conflict.
Haftar’s office was not available for comment. Three sources close to the matter told Reuters Haftar was expected to have talks in Athens on Friday with Greece’s prime minister and foreign minister during a stopover en route to Berlin.
Maas’s comment follows failed efforts by Russia and Turkey to persuade Haftar in Moscow to agree a lasting ceasefire and halt the offensive on Tripoli. Haftar left Moscow without signing the proposal.
“If developments in continue, then Libya will be the next Syria and we don’t want that to happen,” Maas said later on German television.
The conference hosted by Germany on Sunday would bring together rival Libyan camps and the foreign powers supporting them to end the war and resume talks on a power sharing deal.
Among those attending would be Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and European leaders, Maas said.
“General Haftar signalled his readiness to contribute to the success of the Libya Conference in Berlin and is willing to participate. He repeated his commitment to observe the existing ceasefire,” Maas said in a tweet sent by his ministry.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed the move and said the conference aimed to get parties to honour a weapons embargo.
“At the Libya conference we must above all see the weapons embargo is adhered to again, which is basically agreed by the UN but unfortunately not honoured,” she told reporters.
Maas said on German television after a ceasefire and arms embargo were observed, a political process must take place under the auspices of the United Nations to give Libya a prospect of ending its civil war.
“In order for a legitimate government in Libya to remain standing and for stability to be established, we are sending our soldiers,” Erdogan told an event in Ankara.
Greece is furious at the pact between Turkey and Serraj’s government as it seeks to map out a maritime boundary that skims the Greek island of Crete and which Greece and allies say is contrary to international law. Maritime boundaries could give nations the right to explore for hydrocarbons in an as-yet untapped part of the Mediterranean.
Greece says it will exercise a European Union veto on any peace pact in Libya that does not void the Turkish-Libyan deal.