Libyan rival leaders expected to approve ceasefire deal in Moscow

Libya's main rival leaders in that country's civil war were expected on Monday to approve a ceasefire deal in Moscow at talks brokered by senior Russian and Turkish officials.

Libya‘s main rival leaders in that country’s civil war were expected on Monday to approve a ceasefire deal in Moscow at talks brokered by senior Russian and Turkish officials.

The deal, supposed to have already gone into effect on Sunday, is endorsed by Russia and Turkey as a revival of the peace process for the war-torn northern African country.

Libya‘s internationally recognized prime minister, Fayez al-Serraj, and rebel leader Khalifa Haftar were to attend Monday’s talks, brokered by the top diplomats and defence ministers of Russia and Turkey.

Russian state media reported that representatives of the rival sides would sign the ceasefire deal.

Libya has been in turmoil since the 2011 overthrow of long-time dictator Moamer Gaddafi.

The oil-rich country has two competing administrations: the UN-backed government of al-Serraj in Tripoli and another based in the eastern city of Tobruk allied with Haftar.

Both sides have already traded accusations of violating the ceasefire.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose countries have been linked to opposing sides in the conflict, expressed support the ceasefire as they met in Istanbul last week.

Turkish state media reported that Erdogan would visit Berlin on Sunday for an international conference on Libya, during which he would meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Putin, who has also expressed readiness to attend the conference, met with Merkel in Moscow this past weekend.

Germany, on whose initiative the meeting on discussing a political solution in Libya has been planned, has so far not confirmed a date.

French President Emmanuel Macron has also expressed support for a UN-led political settlement process to be discussed in Berlin, his office said in a statement.

In a Sunday call with Putin, Macron emphasized that the ceasefire should be “credible, durable and verifiable,” the statement said.

Although recognizing the weak UN-backed government in Tripoli, France backed Haftar in his conquest of southern Libya last year.

France however denies backing the offensive against Tripoli that Haftar launched in April.

European Union countries have struggled to play a meaningful role in the crisis, despite their strategic interest in stabilizing a country that is rich in oil and gas and is a key transit route for Europe-bound migrants.

Italy, Libya‘s former colonial power, is also involved in diplomatic efforts, with Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte discussing the crisis in Ankara with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said during a visit to Tunis that Libya‘s neighbouring countries like Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco must be involved in the Berlin conference.

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