France will reopen its embassy in the war-torn Libyan capital Tripoli next Monday, President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday, pledging to support the new interim government.
Macron met Mohammed Menfi, who heads the three-member Libyan Presidency Council, in Paris. Menfi was elected in February as part of a political process organized by the United Nations.
Menfi and Acting Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah are tasked with guiding the Government of National Unity (GNU) until the national elections scheduled for December 24 this year.
Macron reiterated his demand that foreign troops leave Libya immediately.
“There will be no peace” in the wider region “if we cannot achieve peace and stability in Libya, if we do not succeed in eradicating terrorist groups and all kinds of human smugglers,” Macron said.
Foreign mercenaries and weapons have been pouring into the country since Haftar launched his offensive, with Russia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) being the main suppliers to the putschist general. According to the UN, there are currently 20,000 foreign and / or mercenary forces in Libya. France was another country that had supported the warlord during his offensive on Tripoli.
The Russian group Wagner, which is owned by businessman Evgeny Prigozhin, a figure close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, is known as one of the main groups that sent mercenaries to fight in Libya.
Most of the foreign forces are concentrated around Sirte at the Jufra air base held by Haftar’s forces 500 kilometers (300 miles) south of Tripoli and further west at al-Watiya.
The French president said the European Union must stand alongside the interim government to help push Libya towards peace.
Macron said France owed “a debt to Libya and the Libyans, who are in a decade of chaos.”
He said he would raise the issue of Libya at a European summit on Thursday.
The new unity government replaced the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA), which was in charge of Tripoli and the western regions of Libya, as well as the competing eastern administration linked to coup leader General Khalifa Haftar.