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Turkey among reasons for Haftar's leaving talks without signing deal, says speaker

On January 12, a ceasefire in Libya proposed by Russian and Turkish Presidents Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan as part of a larger initiative to achieve peace in the country entered into force at midnight

CAIRO, January 16. /TASS/. Turkey was among the reasons why the commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA), Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, left the talks in Moscow on January 13 without signing a ceasefire agreement, President of the Libyan House of Representatives Aguila Saleh said in an interview with the Egyptian Akhbar el-Yom newspaper on Thursday.

"When it became clear to us that there was an intention to announce a joint statement by [Prime Minister of Libya’s Government of National Accord in Tripoli Fayez] Sarraj and Haftar on a ceasefire in addition to some other points, we refused to sign this agreement, because it was Sarraj who featured on the other side, who is not recognized in Libya and his government is seen as illegitimate, especially after he twice lost a vote of confidence in parliament," the speaker said.

"Then a proposal came that each side will ink the document individually. However, after the statement had been read, it became clear that it did not contain many important points, as a result of which we refused flatly," he added.

"Turkey’s presence at the talks was among the main reasons, since it is an inalienable part of the problem, and not a solution," Aguila Saleh went on to say. "How can it be taking part in this when it supports one of the sides in the dispute?" he wondered. "Another reason is the ceasefire — we agreed to a ceasefire with the government of Sarraj out of respect for Russia which seeks to find ways to settle the crisis, although we are absolutely confident that the terrorist groups won’t abide by the ceasefire, which is what happened as a result," he explained.

The Libyan National Army "is not fighting another army, it fights terrorists and killers". "The third reason for the refusal is the absence of any sign of the withdrawal of militants and mercenaries from Libya, and fourthly — the Russian-Turkish ceasefire initiative gave no timeframes," Saleh added.

He said that reports coming after the talks in Moscow about Haftar’s intentions to sign the deal within two days, were not true. Saleh also said that he shared the view of certain LNA commanders that the military solution was the most suitable option in the current situation. "I will agree with this, since the political solution has failed," he pointed out. "We are now dealing with armed militias in Tripoli. Within four years, the Turks and Italians have failed to evict from Tripoli the terrorists supported by the Cabinet of Sarraj, who himself has nothing to offer for the settlement of the crisis," he stressed.

Peace talks

On January 12, a ceasefire in Libya proposed by Russian and Turkish Presidents Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan as part of a larger initiative to achieve peace in the country entered into force at midnight. The ceasefire’s objective is to stop hostilities between the Libyan National Army led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar and Fayez al-Sarraj’s Government of National Accord (GNA) sitting in Tripoli. On Monday, January 13, representatives of the parties to the conflict arrived in Moscow for talks after which GNA envoys signed a ceasefire agreement.

Haftar took a pause to study the agreement. However, later he left Moscow without putting his signature under the document.

On Tuesday, the Russian Defense Ministry announced that Field Marshal Haftar was positive about the final statement but took two days to hash over the document with leaders of tribes supporting the LNA. The Russian ministry added that the effort that started in the Russian capital would be continued, lauding the principled agreement given by the sides to extend a ceasefire indefinitely as a main achievement of the talks because it establishes favorable conditions to convene a conference on Libya in Berlin.

Meanwhile, Libyan Parliament Speaker Saleh Issa announced late on Tuesday that the ceasefire had collapsed and the fighting in Tripoli resumed.