France, Germany, Italy threaten gun sanctions for Libya

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PARIS (Reuters) – The leaders of France, Germany and Italy threatened for the first time on Saturday the use of sanctions against countries that continued to violate a United Nations arms embargo on Libya.French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte urged “all foreign actors to end their growing interference and to fully respect the arms embargo established by the United Nations Security Council united ”in a joint communiqué issued by the French Presidency after a meeting in Brussels.

“We are ready to consider the possible use of sanctions if the embargo violations at sea, on land or in the air continue, and we look forward to the proposals to be made by the European Union High Representative for business foreign affairs and security policy. in this regard ”, they said

Turkey has intervened decisively in recent weeks in Libya, providing air support, weapons and allied fighters of Syria to help the internationally recognized government based in Tripoli repel a year-long assault by the forces of Eastern Commander Khalifa Haftar .

Haftar is supported by the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Russia, who have also been accused by the UN of breaking the embargo.

On Saturday, the Tripoli-based government brought the fighters closer to Sirte, a gateway to Libya’s main oil terminals, which the government has announced plans to take back from Haftar’s forces.

France has itself been criticized for its ambiguity vis-à-vis Haftar, after having supported him in the fight against Islamist militants.

Saturday’s joint statement marked the first time that the Big Three have threatened sanctions amid fears of further escalation on the ground. [nL5N2EP0BU]

“We share serious concerns about rising military tensions in this country and the increased risk of regional escalation,” they said. “We therefore call on all Libyan parties and their foreign supporters to immediately end the fighting and end the ongoing military escalation across the country.”

Diplomats said European Union countries could also consider imposing sanctions on individuals on both Libyan sides.

Reporting by John Irish; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Hugh Lawson

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