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Al-Sarraj hopes Russia to mediate with Haftar

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LIBYAPROSPECT – London

The head of the Presidential Council (PC) of the Government of National Accord (GNA), Fayez Al-Sarraj, said that he would like Russia to help to solve the current deadlock inside the country.

He expressed, in an interview with Reuters, his hope that Moscow would mediate between him and the commander of the army of the House of Representatives (HoR), General Khalifa Haftar.

Earlier, Egypt tried to forge talks between the factions in Tripoli and the eastern side of Libya but failed to organize a meeting between Al-Sarraj and Haftar, who made an official visit to the Russian aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean last month in a show of Kremlin support.

Russia is expecting Al-Sarraj soon. Asked whether Moscow could become a useful intermediary to pass on political messages or pressure to Haftar, Al-Sarraj said: “Yes.”

Al-Sarraj said on the sideline of the Munich Security Conference, on Sunday that “we hope Russia would play a decisive role in resolving the Libyan crisis. We wish for any party involved in Libya to have a positive effect, in the sense that the message that I want to sit down with the other Libyan parties reaches them.”

Al-Sarraj had official contacts with the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, and Moscow’s ambassador to Libya, and said that “we sent a clear message that we don’t want to exclude any military leaders.” He also declared a desire to unite the military powers, cooperate in fighting terrorism, and to unite all military forces under a political umbrella.

Egyptian sources said earlier that Al-Sarraj and Haftar agreed to commit to a plan for creating a joint committee to negotiate the reconciliation and the elections by February 2018. But Al-Sarraj said that there was no agreement in Cairo, pointing that “the other side refuses talks.”

Western officials see the United Nations-backed government a way to stabilize Libya that suffering civil war since 2011.

Italy and the European Union promised this month to finance migrant camps run by Al-Sarraj’s government as part of a wider drive to stem immigration from Africa, but Al-Sarraj said help was not sufficient yet to provide real humanitarian help.

Al-Sarraj renewed the refusal to host the migrants deported from Europe, adding that “the EU should keep its commitment to help Libya controlling southern borders, and return migrants back to their countries.”

He added that “talks focus on those coming from Africa and end up in Libya, not returning migrants from Europe to Libya. We’re talking about the economic support, support with medical drugs, and humanitarian aid, to provide medical services and doctors until the migrants return to their countries of origin.”