Libya and Russia agree on a planned exit of all mercenaries

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Libya’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Najla El-Mangoush, held a joint press conference yesterday, Thursday 19 August, with her Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, at the end of an official visit. At the beginning of the press conference, the Minister of Foreign Affairs expressed appreciation to President Vladimir Putin by President of the Presidential Council Mohamed El-Manfi, Prime Minister Abdel Hamid Al-Dabiba, for the Russian efforts in support of the Government of National Unity.

In particular, Al-Mangoush appreciated the Russian role in supporting the ceasefire in Libya from 2020 and in Berlin 1 and 2. At the press conference, he stressed the importance of strengthening positive cooperation and strengthening relations between the two countries by activating joint agreements and memoranda of understanding and working to open the Russian embassy in Tripoli and the Consulate in Benghazi, the exchange of visits between the officials of the two countries, the reactivation of the intercountry committee, and the ongoing consultation on various issues of mutual interest.

Libya’s Foreign Minister expressed her desire that Russia continues to support the Libya Stability Initiative, the result of the Berlin conference, and contribute to the reunification of the armed forces. For her part, the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, said he was pleased to meet the Minister again, reaffirming Russia’s support for the dialogue between the various parties in Libya and affirming his country’s support for the Libyan political process. Furthermore, Lavrov renewed the urgency to implement and support the outputs of the Berlin Process and the 5 + 5 Committee, inviting the international community and Libyan actors to support their implementation.

According to the Ministry of Tripoli statement, at the end of the press conference, both parties underlined the agreement to establish a fixed calendar for the gradual and balanced exit of all foreign mercenaries from Libyan territory. Russia, Turkey, and some Gulf countries had mobilized thousands of mercenaries and military equipment in Libya since April 2019, when they suspected the military operations of the Libyan National Army in the capital Tripoli against militias outside state control and the remnants of terrorist groups.

Turkey, in particular, has moved over 20,000 Syrian fighters to Tripoli and Misrata. At the same time, the US State Department published several shreds of evidence of Moscow’s support for Haftar’s LNA. That also allowed Egypt’s mediations to reach a stalemate de facto, maintaining the ceasefire on the ground for over a year.

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