PARIS – France will reopen its embassy in the Libyan capital Tripoli next week in a gesture of support for the interim government of the conflict-ravaged country, President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday.
Macron said France owed “a debt to Libya and the Libyans, which is a decade of disorder.”
Libya was plunged into chaos when an uprising in 2011 – with the backing of a NATO military operation initially led by France – toppled longtime leader Moamer Kadhafi, who was later killed.
Macron spoke after a meeting in Paris with Mohammad Younes Menfi and Musa al-Koni, president and vice-president of the Presidential Council of Libya. The transitional government took power last week.
“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.
He added that priority should be given to maintaining the ceasefire, leading the country to elections scheduled for December and unifying the Libyan armed forces to support the transition.
The oil-rich country has in recent years been divided between rival administrations based in the east and the west, each backed by armed groups and foreign governments.
Macron also said that France and its allies wanted to ensure that all foreign fighters, especially those coming from Russia and Turkey, leave Libya “as soon as possible”.
Earlier this month, the UN Security Council called on countries with troops and mercenaries in Libya to withdraw them “without delay”. The UN has estimated that there are 20,000 foreign fighters in Libya, including Syrians, Turks, Sudanese and Russians.
Menfi thanked France for its “remarkable” support in reaching a peaceful settlement of the civil war in Libya. The French embassy in Tripoli is expected to reopen on Monday.
LIbya’s interim government, which includes a three-member presidential council and cabinet, seized power under international pressure to implement a political roadmap negotiated by the UN. This roadmap, approved by a Libyan political forum chosen by the UN last year, set December 24 for general elections.