AFRICOM commander, US ambassador hold talks with Libyan PM

ROME, ITALY - JULY 26: Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj at Palazzo Chigi on July 26, 2017 in Rome, Italy. Paolo Gentiloni has previously met with Fayez al-Sarraj to discuss migration and border control. (Photo by Simona Granati - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)
FILE PHOTO: Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj. (Photo by Simona Granati – Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)

Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj and the commander of the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) General Stephen Townsend on Monday held discussions on US security interests in Libya.

A statement by AFRICOM said that the meeting was a chance to create new relationships and assess the situation in Libya. Among the issues discussed were the security environment, the importance of addressing the existing violent extremist organization threat, and the need to resolve the ongoing conflict in Libya.

General Townsend was accompanied on his trip by the new United States ambassador to Libya Richard Norland.

Libya has been in turmoil since Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) launched a military campaign on April 4 to take over the capital Tripoli where the UN-backed government is based.

The offensive triggered the latest outbreak of violence in the country since the toppling of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

“We emphasized to Prime Minister Sarraj the importance of supporting a diplomatic solution to put an end to the current conflict,” Townsend said.

Townsend and Norland are scheduled to have a meeting with the head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) Ghassan Salame to discuss how the US military may cooperate with the UN in the quest for a political settlement in Libya.

“We are committed to open and transparent dialogue on this urgent security issue. We fully support the United Nations, U.S. State Department and the Libya External Office’s efforts to promote stability and shared prosperity in Libya,” Townsend added.

Townsend underscored the importance of ensuring that the threat of violent extremist organization is contained and does not create additional instability in Libya and the North African region.

Despite AFRICOM not having any personnel stationed in Libya, it said it continues to evaluate the viability of a renewed US military presence once the security environment allows such a move.

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