(Daily Star) Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj of the U.N.-backed government in Tripoli said Sunday he would like Russia to help overcome deadlock in the country, which is struggling with divisions among militias and an Islamist militant threat.
In an interview with Reuters, Sarraj expressed hope that Moscow might act as an intermediary between him and Khalifa Haftar, a military commander who is supported by factions based in the east of Libya.
Sarraj’s Government of National Accord has been trying to formulate plans for unified Libyan security forces since arriving in Tripoli in March, but has made little progress.
Neighboring Egypt talked this month to the Tripoli and eastern factions, which are both vying for control of the country. However, it failed to engineer a meeting between the two key figures, Sarraj and Haftar.
Haftar was given a tour of a Russian aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean last month in a show of Kremlin support. Russia also expects Sarraj to visit Moscow soon.
Asked whether Moscow could become a useful intermediary to pass on political messages or pressure to Haftar, Sarraj said “Yes.”
“We hope that Russia will play a positive role in resolving the Libyan crisis,” he said on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference. “We hope that anyone getting involved in Libya will have a positive effect in the sense that the message that I want to sit down with the other Libyan parties reaches them.”
Sarraj has already held talks with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Moscow’s ambassador in Libya. Referring to these meetings, he said: “We sent a clear message, we don’t want to exclude any military leaders. We want to unite the military forces … we want military forces to come under a political umbrella.”