The US wants to work with Russia to end conflict in Libya, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said adding he reminded his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov of the arms embargo in place on the North African country.
Speaking at the US State Department, Pompeo said there could be no military solution to the fighting and Washington warned countries against sending weapons to Libya.
“We want to work with the Russians to get to the negotiating table, have a series of conversations that ultimately lead to a disposition creating what the UN has been trying to do,” Pompeo said.
“Foreign Minister Lavrov told me directly he is prepared to be part of that, to continue it. I reminded him there is a weapons embargo still in place in Libya and no nation ought to be providing incremental materiel in Libya,” he said.
Libya has been divided since 2014 into rival military and political camps based in Tripoli and the east. Fayez al-Serraj’s government is in conflict with forces led by Khalifa Haftar in eastern Libya.
Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) has been trying since April to take Tripoli. He is backed by Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and most recently Russian mercenaries, according to diplomats and Tripoli officials. The LNA denies it has foreign backing.
US President Donald Trump called Haftar early in the offensive, a move some diplomats took as sign Washington might back the former Gaddafi officer. The US last month called on the LNA to end its offensive on Tripoli. It also warned against Russian interference.
“We reached out not only to the Russians but to others providing weapon systems there and saying it’s not in the best interest,” Pompeo said.
Diplomats say Turkey supplied drones and trucks to forces allied to Serraj, while the LNA received support from the United Arab Emirates and Egypt.
Two weeks ago Libya’s internationally recognised government and Turkey signed an expanded security and military accord and a memorandum on maritime boundaries, a step angering Greece and triggering it to expel the Libyan ambassador.