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World

Germany, UN to host conference on Libya in Berlin on June 23

BERLIN (AP) — Germany and the United Nations plan to host a conference on Libya in Berlin on June 23, a gathering that aims to bring together powers with interests in the North African country and its transitional government.

The agenda will include discussions for preparations for elections in December and the withdrawal of foreign forces.

The meeting, announced on Tuesday, is expected to take place at the level of foreign ministers and follows up on a first Berlin conference held in January 2020 at which leaders agreed to respect an arms embargo and push Libya’s warring parties to reach a full cease-fire. Germany has been trying to act as an intermediary.

The countries that have been involved in the process include the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, along with Italy, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.

The Berlin conference will mark the first time that the Libyan transitional government is represented at such an event, the German foreign ministry said in a statement.

It will “take stock of progress” since the first Berlin gathering and discuss “the next steps needed for a sustainable stabilization,” it added.

“The main focus will be on preparations for the national elections scheduled for Dec. 24 and on the withdrawal of foreign troops and mercenaries from Libya as agreed in the cease-fire,” the ministry statement said. “In addition, steps towards the creation of unified Libyan security forces will be discussed.”

Libya has been mired in chaos since a NATO-backed uprising toppled and later killed longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011. Afterwards, the oil-rich country was long divided between a U.N.-supported government in the capital, Tripoli, and rival authorities based in the country’s east, each backed by armed groups and foreign governments.

In April 2019, east-based commander Khalifa Hifter and his forces, backed by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, launched an offensive to try and capture Tripoli. His 14-month-long campaign collapsed after Turkey stepped up its military support of the U.N.-backed government with hundreds of troops and thousands of Syrian mercenaries.

An October cease-fire agreement that included a demand that all foreign fighters and mercenaries leave Libya within 90 days led to a deal on the transitional government and December elections. The government took office in February.

The Associated Press