UAE calls for urgent diplomacy to end conflict in Libya

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UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United Arab Emirates called for an urgent renewal of diplomatic efforts to end the conflict in Libya on Friday and said it is ready to work with the new U.S. administration and all other members of the U.N. Security Council to restore peace in the oil-rich north African nation.

The statement from UAE Ambassador Lana Nusseibeh was issued a day after the United States called on Russia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates to immediately halt their military interventions in Libya as demanded in a cease-fire agreement, and accept Libyan sovereignty as it moves to unify its government, hold elections and end years of fighting.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the 15-member Security Council also called Thursday for all foreign forces and mercenaries to leave Libya immediately.

Nusseibeh didn’t mention U.S. deputy ambassador to the U.N. Richard Mills singling out the three key foreign backers of Libya’s rival governments in a speech to the Security Council, a shift by President Joe Biden’s administration, compared to the Trump administration’s unclear stance on Libya.

Instead, she focused on the Security Council, where the U.S. is a veto-wielding member along with Russia, China, Britain and France.

“The UAE welcomes the council’s call for all foreign forces to withdraw from Libya,” Nusseibeh said. “Foreign intervention in the conflict must end now.”

Since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that overthrew and later killed dictator Moammar Gadhafi, Libya has been in turmoil, split between rival administrations in the east and west, each backed by an array of militias and foreign powers.

Turkey is the main patron of the U.N.-supported government in the capital, Tripoli, while the UAE, Russia and Egypt back the forces of military commander Khalifa Hifter who runs most of the country’s east and south.

Nusseibeh said “the UAE has consistently supported a comprehensive and lasting political solution to the Libyan crisis,” stressing that achieving peace is also essential for the broader Middle East, North Africa and the Mediterranean region.

The UAE ambassador said the first priority is to preserve and reinforce the October cease-fire agreement between Libya’s warring parties, which she said “will enable a political process and a Libyan-led transition.”

At Thursday’s council meeting, acting U.N. envoy to Libya Stephanie Williams said that “blatant foreign interference continues,” pointing to flights carrying military cargo continuing to both sides and “undermining” the cease-fire deal. She called for all foreign fighters and mercenaries who were supposed to leave Libya by Jan. 23 to leave now.

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