Europe discusses Libya crisis in Brussels

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Britain's Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab arrives for a meeting with foreign ministers of France, Germany and Italy to discuss Libya's crisis in Brussels, Belgium January 7, 2020. REUTERS
Britain’s Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab arrives for a meeting with foreign ministers of France, Germany and Italy to discuss Libya’s crisis in Brussels, Belgium January 7, 2020./REUTERS

The European Union’s top diplomat and the foreign ministers of Britain, France, Germany and Italy planned to meet on Tuesday in Brussels to discuss Libya’s crisis after postponing a trip to the conflict-ridden country.

A spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the talks would focus on seeking a ceasefire in Libya as its internationally recognized government struggles to fend off a military offensive on its power base in the capital Tripoli.

The Libyan National Army (LNA), led by eastern-based commander Khalifa Haftar, is waging the offensive and on Monday took over the central coastal city of Sirte, controlled by Tripoli-aligned forces since 2016.

On Tuesday, Tripoli government forces said they had withdrawn from Sirte, a strategic prize due to its proximity to major oil export terminals, to avoid bloodshed after their eastern rivals rapidly swept in.

The EU talks were to have taken place in Libya but the Tripoli government asked for them to be postponed, according to two EU diplomats.

They come as Europe and the United States face being sidelined by Turkey and Russia, who are taking a bigger role in the conflict in the North African state, which has been in turmoil since Muammar Gaddafi’s fall to an uprising in 2011.

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