Berlin Libya conference boosted by Haftar and Macron plans to attend
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will also join the conference to back a truce agreement
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Thursday that Libya's Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar was ready to attend negotiations on Sunday in Berlin where a ceasefire agreement will be the focus of talks.
Visiting Benghazi as part of preparations for the multinational conference, Mr Maas said the commander remained committed to a ceasefire that was negotiated ahead a summit in Moscow last week.
"He agreed - even if he did not sign the ceasefire agreement at the start of the week in Moscow - to adhere to the ceasefire," Mr Maas said. "That is extremely important."
The two men met as world leaders committed to travelling to Berlin where the Germans hope to relaunch the UN-led mediation efforts between Libya's warring factions.
In a surprise move, Field Marshal Haftar flew to Athens by private plane on Thursday for meetings not previously announced by the Greek government.
He was taken to a luxury Athens hotel where he was met by Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias for an initial round of talks, TV footage showed.
Greece was not invited to take part in Berlin negotiations, but Athens was angered by the Tripoli government signing an maritime and military cooperation deal with regional rival Turkey.
Mr Dendias will see the Libyan commander again on Friday at the foreign ministry, and Mr Haftar is also expected to meet with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis later in the day, before heading on to Berlin.
The spokesperson for the LNA’s operation in Tripoli told Associated Press that the Field Marshal would attend the Berlin talks.
“Libya’s main problem is well-known to the world, it lies in the existence of militias,” said Brig Gen Khaled Al Mahjoub.
France’s mission to Libya confirmed President Emmanuel Macron would be attending the Berlin conference. President Emmanuel Macron had earlier said he wanted the gathering to serve a purpose.
“My intention is that we have a useful conference,” Mr Macron said. “We’re very committed to limit external influences and try to reconcile as much as possible.”
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will also attend the conference and push for sustaining a fragile ceasefire, the State Department said on Thursday.
A senior State Department official said the continuation of the ceasefire was "imperative".
Russian President Vladimir Putin said he would attend the conference after Field Marshal Haftar of the Libyan National Army left the talks in Moscow without signing a ceasefire agreement to end nine months of fighting in the country.
Fayez Al Sarraj, the prime minister of the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord, has also signed up.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned on Thursday his country was accelerating the deployment of mercenaries to “teach a lesson” to Field Marshal Haftar.
Turkey has been providing military support for the GNA for weeks. “In order for the legitimate government in Libya to remain standing and for stability to be established, we are now sending our soldiers to this country,” he said in Ankara.
More than 2,000 people have been killed and tens of thousands displaced since fighting began while the United Nations has been trying to lay the ground for a political conference to unite the country.
As well as Germany, Russia and Turkey, government representatives from the US, Italy, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates will attend.
Updated: January 17, 2020 04:12 AM