Egypt to meet four European countries over Libya situation

FILE PHOTO: A fighter of Libya’s UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) of Fayez Serraj, fires his rifle during clashes with forces of the self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar, at Al-Khalla frontline./ Getty Images

Egypt announced on Monday that it would hold a meeting with four European Mediterranean countries over the situation in Libya after Turkey began deploying troops there.

The talks are scheduled to be held on Wednesday in Cairo, with foreign ministers from France, Italy, Greece and Cyprus to attend.

The ministers will tackle the “rapid developments” in Libya and “ways to push efforts to reach a comprehensive settlement” between rival administrations there, a statement said.

Turkey’s Grand National Assembly last week voted 352-184 to approve the deployment of troops in Libya to support Fayez Sarraj’s Tripoli-based government fend off forces loyal to strongman Khalifa Hafter who has pledged to take over the capital.

The approval now gives the Turkish government the green-light to send troops to Libya for one year.

The decision has drawn concerns from various quarters in the international community, with numerous calls for restraint.

A European Union spokesperson Peter Stano said on Friday that “actions supporting those who are fighting in the conflict will only further destabilise the country and the wider region.”

Libya has been dogged by war since December 2011, and the situation heightened earlier this year when self-styled Libyan National Army chief Gen. Hafter pledged to take over Tripoli from the U.N.-backed government led by Prime Minister Sarraj.

Hafter announced in early December a final push to take Tripoli from Sarraj’s government, unleashing heavy clashes on the southern edges of the city.

Since 2011, the Libyan war has killed thousands and displaced millions as militant groups and human trafficking cells sought to impose their command in various regions across the country.

Earlier this week, France and Egypt called for the “greatest restraint” by Libyan and international authorities to avoid an escalation of the conflict that has rocked the country for months.

Mediation teams hope the warring factions can strike a deal to restore lasting peace in the country.