Macron to meet Libya’s eastern commander Haftar next week

France has supported Haftar as a way to fight militants in Libya. (AFP/File photo)
Updated 16 May 2019
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Macron to meet Libya’s eastern commander Haftar next week

PARIS: French President Emmanuel Macron will meet eastern Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar in the middle of next week to discuss how to resume peace talks in the country, a French presidential source said on Thursday.
Macron last week called for a cease-fire in the month-long battle for Libya’s capital Tripoli after meeting UN-backed Libyan Prime Minister Fayez Al-Serraj.
“They will discuss the situation in Libya, the conditions for a return to political dialogue following the visit of Serraj and in co-ordination with the United Nations and partners,” the source told Reuters.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte met Haftar on Thursday as European powers seek to put an end to fighting after troops loyal to Haftar launched an offensive on the capital breaking months of UN-led peace negotiations.
“Prime Minister Conte reiterated the need to agree to a cease-fire as soon as possible to avoid a humanitarian crisis in the country and safeguard the already difficult conditions of the Libyan people,” his office said.
Tripoli is home to the UN-backed administration but some European countries such as France have also supported eastern military commander Haftar as a way to fight militants in a country in chaos since the toppling of Muammar Qaddafi in 2011.
A day after meeting Macron last week, Serraj’s administration asked 40 foreign firms including French oil major Total to renew their licenses or have their operations suspended.


Iraq offers to mediate in crisis between US and Iran

Updated 38 min 1 sec ago
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Iraq offers to mediate in crisis between US and Iran

  • ‘We are trying to help and to be mediators’
  • The crisis takes root in President Donald Trump’s withdrawal last year of the US from the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers

BAGHDAD: Iraq offered to mediate in the crisis between its two key allies, the United States and Iran, amid escalating Middle East tensions and as Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers steadily unravels.
Iraqi foreign minister, Mohammed Al-Hakim, made the offer Sunday during a joint news conference in Baghdad with visiting Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif.
“We are trying to help and to be mediators,” said Al-Hakim, adding that Baghdad “will work to reach a satisfactory solution” while stressing that Iraq stands against unilateral steps taken by Washington.
In recent weeks, tensions between Washington and Tehran soared over America deploying an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the Arabian Gulf over a still-unexplained threat it perceives from Tehran.
The crisis takes root in President Donald Trump’s withdrawal last year of the US from the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers that capped Iran’s uranium enrichment activities in return to lifting sanctions. Washington subsequently re-imposed sanctions on Iran, sending its economy into freefall.
Trump has argued that the deal failed to sufficiently curb Iran’s ability to develop nuclear weapons or halt its support for militias throughout the Middle East that the US says destabilize the region, as well as address the issue of Tehran’s missiles, which can reach both US regional bases and Israel.
Zarif, who was been on a whirlwind diplomatic offensive to preserve the rest of the accord, insisted that Iran “did not violate the nuclear deal” and urged European nations to exert efforts to preserve the deal following the US pullout.
Speaking about the rising tensions with the US, Zarif said Iran will be able to “face the war, whether it is economic or military through steadfastness and its forces.” He also urged for a non-aggression agreement between Iran and Arab countries in the Gulf.
The mediation offer by Al-Hakim, Iraq’s foreign minister, echoed one made Saturday by Mohamad Al-Halbousi, the Iraqi parliament speaker. Al-Hakim also expressed concern for Iran’s spiraling economy.
“The sanctions against sisterly Iran are ineffective and we stand by its side,” Al-Hakim said.