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Russia supports decision on need to withdraw foreign military from Libya — Lavrov

Russia’s top diplomat noted that Libya and Russia agreed to continue to build up contacts between the Foreign Ministries, exchange assessments regarding the crises and conflicts that persist in the Middle East and North Africa

MOSCOW, August 19. /TASS/. Russia supports the latest decisions by the 5+5 Joint Military Commission on the withdrawal of all foreign military personnel from Libya, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters at a news conference on Thursday following talks with Foreign Minister of Libya’s Government of National Unity Najla Mangoush.

"We have reaffirmed Russia’s support for those decisions that are made within the framework of the 5+5 Joint Military Commission, including the ones made at its meeting five days ago, specifically, on the need to withdraw all foreign military personnel from Libya," he said.

Lavrov added that the Libyan delegation had briefed Russia on the implementation of political agreements. "As you may remember, these agreements include preparations for holding the general election at the end of December," the minister went on to say. "We agree with the opinion of our Libyan counterparts regarding the need to accelerate the development of the legislative framework for the electoral process to ensure that it is approved by the parliament as soon as possible."

"We agreed that we would continue to build up contacts between the Foreign Ministries, exchange assessments regarding the crises and conflicts that persist in the Middle East and North Africa," Russia’s top diplomat noted.

On October 23 last year, the 5+5 commission (five military delegates from the Government of National Accord (GNA) and the Libyan National Army (LNA) each) met in Geneva to put signatures to an agreement on a permanent ceasefire. At the beginning of February, after UN-brokered talks, Prime Minister of the interim government Abdul Hamid Dbeibah and three members of Libya's Presidential Council were elected. Both bodies of power were sworn into office on March 15 and began to perform their duties in Tripoli. Their key task is to unite the fragmented government bodies across the country and also to prepare for and hold parliamentary and presidential elections in Libya on December 24, 2021.

Balance of power in the region

Sergey Lavrov added, that foreign troops must be withdrawn from Libyan territory progressively, without tipping the balance towards any side.

"The withdrawal of these troops must necessarily take place and this process has to be organized step by step and be synchronized, without tipping the balance towards any side. This is the main thing and not the attempts to divert the discussion into a talk about the legitimate and illegitimate forces there," the Russian foreign minister said.

As Lavrov recalled, amidst the fighting in Libya, the Tripoli government and the Tobruk-based parliament, being the legitimate political forces in the country, requested military assistance from various sources.

"On the ground, a balance of military efforts turned out to be observed or created, including efforts by the sides themselves and those who assisted them, and largely this balance has helped to agree the ceasefire that has been in effect for more than a year already," the Russian foreign minister added.

As Lavrov pointed out, the Libyan National Unity Government’s foreign minister informed him at the talks that a consultative mechanism had been established to implement the decision on the withdrawal of all foreign troops from the country.

"We will be ready to participate constructively in this work jointly with other countries," Russia’s top diplomat said.

For her part, Mangoush emphasized that the Libyan government considered the foreign troop pullout as a priority task.

"In the first place, such decisions are intended to avoid the negative lessons of some of our neighbors and prevent foreign troops from pulling out in an ill-devised manner and the country from sliding into chaos. It is necessary to ensure that the national security of Libya is not affected. We are open for dialogue with all states," she stressed.