Summit participants agree to respect Libya arms embargo, push ceasefire - live blog

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An international summit aiming to broker a permanent peace between warring parties in Libya concluded on Sunday with countries with interests in the North African country’s civil war agreeing to respect an arms embargo, stop providing military support to the rival factions and push for a full cease-fire.

The agreement followed four hours of talks hosted by German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin attended by leaders of 11 countries involved in the conflict.

Libya’s two main rival leaders, Fayez Sarraj and Khalifa Haftar, although present in the German capital, were not at the main conference table.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Emmanuel Macron, Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo were among those in attendance on Sunday. 

Libya is split between U.N. recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli, and the Tobruk government, led by General Khalifa Haftar, the de facto ruler of eastern Libya and head of the Libyan National Army (LNA). Haftar has launched an assault to control Tripoli in April. 

The conflict risks turning into a full-blown proxy war as Turkey and Qatar support the GNA, while a plethora of countries – including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, France and Russia – support Haftar’s LNA.

French President Emmanuel Macron during a speech he delivered on Sunday called for an end to the presence of Syrian and other foreign forces in Tripoli.  

Participants in the summit agreed that “we want to respect the arms embargo, and that the arms embargo will be more strongly controlled than was the case in the past,” AP quoted Merkel as saying. The German chancellor added that the results of the conference should be endorsed by the U.N. Security Council.

It remains unclear who will implement the U.N. Security Council imposed arms embargo on Libya, which the bloc’s member states have been accused of systematically violating for years.

Libya’s two main rival leaders, Sarraj of the U.N.-recognised GNA and Haftar of the LNA, have named members of a military committee that will represent them at talks on a more permanent cease-fire, Merkel said.

The committee will convene “in Geneva in the coming days,” U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said. 

Guterres stressed the need for all participants to commit to “put pressure on the parties for a full cease-fire to be reached.”

“We cannot monitor something that doesn’t exist,” Guterres said. “We have a truce.”

Turkish President  Erdoğan called on the international community on Sunday to stand against what he calls the merchants of blood and chaos on his way to the conference in Berlin.

"Hopes that flourish again with the cease-fire and the Berlin summit should not be sacrificed to the ambitions of the merchants of blood and chaos," Associated Press quoted Erdoğan as saying at Istanbul airport before leaving to attend the talks.

Turkey signed a memorandum of understanding with Libya's internationally recognised GNA on Nov. 27 that delineates common maritime boundaries in the Mediterranean in a move that has further flared tension in the region. Greece says the maritime deal, which seeks to create an exclusive economic zone from Turkey’s southern Mediterranean shore to Libya’s northeast coast, ignores territorial waters around the divided island of Cyprus and number of Greek islands, including Crete.


23:35 - LNA hails conference as victory for Libyan people

The Libyan National Army (LNA) lauded on Sunday the Berlin summit, calling it a victory for the people of Libya.

"Diplomatic victory for the Libyan people today, courtesy of the general commander of the Libyan National Army Khalifa Haftar,’’ the LNA said on its official Twitter account.

The LNA also thanked France, Russia, Egypt, the UAE and Italy for their support. 

World leaders on Sunday agreed to respect a Libya arms embargo, stop providing military support to the rival factions and push for a full cease-fire.


22:15 - U.N. chief concerned over oil ports, oilfield shut in Libya

U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres expressed on Sunday his concern over the shutting down of several oil ports and an oilfield in Libya, Reuters reported. 

Forces loyal to LNA commander Haftar shut off production at all Libya’s major oil fields, in a move that threatening to choke-hold the country’s finances and overshadowed the Berlin summit.


22:00 - Military committee of Libya’s rival factions to meet in Geneva

LNA Commander Khalifa Haftar and GNA Prime Minister Sarraj have agreed to name members of a military committee that will represent them at talks on a more permanent cease-fire and convene “in Geneva in the coming days,” Merkel said following Sunday’s summit.

The German chancellor said discussions were held with both men, adding, “We spoke with them individually because the differences between them are so great that they aren’t speaking with each other at the moment,” AP reported.


21:54 - Summit participants agree to respect Libya arms embargo, says Merkel

Countries with interests in Libya’s long-running conflict have agreed that they should respect a much-violated arms embargo, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said after at end of talks on Sunday.

“We all agree that we should respect the arms embargo and that the arms embargo should be controlled more strongly than it has been in the past,” AP quoted Merkel as saying.

The members of the conference agreed to provide no further military support to the warring parties, she added. 


21:05 - Haftar’s LNA forces shut off Libya's biggest oil field

Forces loyal to Khalifa Haftar shut off production at major oil fields on Sunday as the LNA commander attended the Berlin conference in Germany aimed at ending Libya’s years-long conflict.

Members of the Petroleum Facilities Guard under the command of Haftar’s LNA shut down the Hamada-Zawiya oil pipeline, forcing it to curtail production at the Sharara and El Feel oil fields, UAE based the National reported.


20:15 - World leaders close to agreement over communique, says Reuters

World leaders are close to reaching an agreement at the Libya conference in Berlin over a draft communique on the crisis, Reuters said citing a participant.

Germany and the United Nations have been exerting efforts to draw the LNA’s Haftar back into diplomacy after he quit talks.


20:00 - France’s Macron calls for end to Syrian mercenary presence in Libya

French President Emmanuel Macron at the conference called for an end to the presence of Syrian and other foreign forces in Libya, the Guardian reported. 

Turkey is accused of deploying Syrian mercenaries to prop up the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA).

The LNA’s Haftar is backed by Russian mercenaries. France has also been accused of giving him some support.


19:20 - Libya’s GNA accuses Haftar’s forces of violating ceasefire

Libya’s U.N.-recognised GNA government accused on Sunday Haftar’s LNA forces of violating a week-old ceasefire.

Haftar’s forces again violated the cease-fire which started early last Sunday by firing on Al-Khallatat, a region south of the capital Tripoli, Anadolu news agency quoted GNA Spokesman Mohammed Kanunu as saying.

The North African country’s rival factions announced a cease-fire on Jan. 12 in response to a joint call by Ankara and Moscow.


18:00 - LNA Commander Haftar meets with France’s Macron

The General Commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA) Khalifa Haftar met with the French President Emmanuel Macron ahead of Sunday’s conference, the LNA said on its official Twitter account.

Libya's internationally recognised GNA government has accused of France of “relentlessly backing” Haftar, a claim France denies.


17:00 - Erdoğan meets with Libya's Sarraj

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan met with Libya's U.N-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) leader in Berlin, the Turkish presidency announced.


16:30 -Greece, Turkey trade barbs over Libya

Ankara and Athens exchanged harsh words ahead of Sunday’s Libya conference, Greek newspaper Kathimerini reported.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan claimed that Greece had “gone crazy” over not being invited to the Berlin meeting while accusing Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is taking “the wrong steps’’ in inviting LNA commander Haftar to Greece earlier this week.

Greece’s foreign ministry hit back at Erdoğan, saying it was “paradoxical, that the habitual violator of international law’’ would try to give lessons. 


15:57 - Erdoğan, Putin meet ahead of Berlin conference 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin met ahead of the Berlin conference on the Libyan peace, state -run Anadolu news agency said.

The meeting between the leaders included defence and foreign ministers, intelligence chiefs and other top officials.

"In order for Libya to have a political process, Haftar's aggressive attitude must come to an end," Erdoğan said, while Putin praised the steps taken toward a political process in Libya.

Ankara and Moscow, who support opposing sides in the Libyan conflict, brokered a cease-fire which became effective on Jan. 12.


15:55 - Çavuşoğlu, Pompeo hold bilateral meeting

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu met with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on the sidelines of the Berlin conference on Libya, state-run Anadolu news agency said.

"We hope that today's conference will contribute to a lasting cease-fire and the revival of the political process," Çavuşoğlu said in a statement to the press,  adding that Turkey will continue to support these efforts.