Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (R) and Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova attend a news conference in Moscow, Russia, January 17, 2017- REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (R) and Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova attend a news conference in Moscow, Russia, January 17, 2017- REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

Russian FM: Egypt plays important role in settling Libyan crisis

Mon, Feb. 19, 2018
CAIRO – February 19 2018: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stressed on Monday that Egypt, Tunisia, and Algeria play an essential role in settling the Libyan crisis.

“We witness the role played by Egypt, Tunisia and Algeria in helping Libya to settle down its disputes,” said Lavrov during the forum entitled “Russia in the Middle East…Player in all arenas,” adding that Russia support a UN special envoy’s efforts to achieve stability in Libya.

As for Russia, Lavrov stressed the importance of preserving Russian sovereignty and unity, referring that violations are being committed in the de-escalating regions, which Russia is exerting efforts to suspend in order to reach a political consensus for the Syrian crisis.

He confirmed that the Syrian national dialogue held recently in Sochi is very important as Syrian political powers have agreed on the importance of the Syria’s future, calling the international community to revive the Syrian economy.

“There are some concerns in the U.S. plans in Syria particularly in the eastern Euphrates region and the borders between Syria, Iraq and Turkey, and we cannot see any evidences on what Washington has declared of combating Islamic State and preserving Syria’s unity,” added Lavrov.

He further remarked that the U.S. deeds will lead to destroying Syria’s unity and its support for Kurdish units concerning Turkey as it will undermine Syrian unity.
He expressed his concerns toward the attempts to divide the Syria as the United States should provide practical evidence of preserving Syrian unity.

He referred also to the Palestinian cause, confirming that his country seeks not to destroy the peaceful peace settlement between the two parties and that Russia is able to host dialogue between Palestinians and Israelis.

Egypt’s officials held several meetings with their Libyan counterparts as well as members in Tobruk’s House of Representatives to resolve the Libyan crisis and amend the Skhirat agreement. In December 2016, Cairo hosted a conference attended by Libyan officials and representatives from the country’s numerous factions, where they issued five proposed amendments to the agreement. The conference concluded with an agreement to amend the 8th article of the Skhirat agreement that outlined the jurisdiction of the Libyan army chief commander. In January 2017, Egypt invited the two major Libyan factions to discuss the amendments to the agreement, which mainly included a change in the duties of the army commander and measures to maintain the independence of the armed forces and separate them from political conflicts.

Egyptian Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Mahmoud Hegazy met with Libya’s Haftar in Cairo to discuss the proposed amendments, while Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi met with Sarraj, because the two Libyan rivals refused to meet face to face. Afterwards, the two sides agreed to form a joint committee that would make key changes to the UN-brokered peace deal. However, Haftar refused to accept Serraj’s suggestion for a three-man presidency council that will include the position of commander-in-chief (Haftar), head of the House of Representatives (Aqila Saleh) and the head of separate government.

Egypt has continued pressuring Haftar to meet Serraj and agree on a compromise that would bring the conflict in Libya to an end. Until last month, Haftar refused to do so. In May 2017, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) invited the Libyan rival leaders to meet in Abu Dhabi and discuss again the amendments to the 2015 agreement. According to a local Libyan TV channel, the Abu Dhabi meeting reached a preliminary agreement to form a unified presidential council where the commander of the army and the heads of both the Libyan government and the House of Representatives would be members.
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