Berlin to Host Libya Conference Sunday


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UNITED NATIONS - The U.N. secretary-general will travel to Berlin to join the leaders of Britain, France and Germany and the U.S. secretary of state, among others, to try to begin a process to reconcile Libya's rival leaders. Internationally-recognized Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj and renegade General Khalifa Haftar also have been invited to the summit.

The meeting is hosted by Germany, but fits into a three-tiered effort by the U.N.'s top Libya diplomat, Ghassan Salame.

His goal is to reinforce a tenuous cease-fire agreed upon this week between the rivals, with the support of interested nations in Berlin, and then use that momentum to restart an inclusive intra-Libyan dialogue.

But while he seeks international support to move the parties in the direction of peace, foreign interference also has kept them on the path of war.

Several countries have been sending weapons to Libya in violation of a 2011 U.N. arms embargo, including Turkey, Egypt, the UAE and Russia. This has infuriated Salame.

"Get out of [the] Libyan nightmare," he said. "That's what I am asking all the countries. Remain outside this situation, because there is no military solution. The more we give hopes to this side or to that side, the more you render the political solution extremely difficult."

In April, Haftar and his Libyan National Army (LNA) advanced from their positions in the east on Tripoli, which is controlled by the U.N.-backed Presidential Council and al- Serraj, in a bid to capture the capital. He did so just days before a national conference the U.N. had planned as part of an effort to secure a political settlement.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has repeatedly called for a cessation of hostilities and return to dialogue.

His spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, said, "What we hope comes out of Berlin is a renewed demonstration of international unity in supporting the intrapolitical process, ending foreign interference, leading to full respect of the U.N. arms embargo."

In the meantime, nearly 1 million Libyans are in need of humanitarian assistance and protection due to the conflict, including nearly 200,000 migrants caught in the crossfire.