Libya strongman Khalifa Haftar (left) attends a meeting with Egypt President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi in Cairo. File photo
Strongman Khalifa Haftar has backed a ceasefire in Libya starting on Monday, Egypt's president announced after talks in Cairo, following a series of military victories by the country's UN-recognised government.
"This initiative calls for respecting all international efforts and initiatives by declaring a ceasefire from 0600 Monday June 8, 2020," President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi told a news conference alongside Haftar.
Egypt’s president on Saturday announced an initiative to end the civil war in neighbouring Libya, a move accepted by the commander of the eastern Libyan forces that had suffered heavy defeats in recent weeks.
President Abdel-Fattah El Sissi declared the initiative at a ceremony in Cairo attended by military commander Khalifa Hifter and Aguila Saleh, speaker of the Tobruk-based House of Representatives.
El Sissi said the initiative, which included a cease-fire starting Monday, was meant to pave the way for elections in oil-rich Libya. He called for the withdrawal of all foreign fighters in Libya.
There was no immediate comment from the UN-supported government in the capital, Tripoli.
Hifter’s east-based Libyan Arab Armed Forces had launched an offensive last year to capture Tripoli. But he recently lost several strategic spots in western Libya after Turkey increased its support to an array of militias loosely allied with the Tripoli-based government.
Libya has been in turmoil since 2011 when a civil war toppled long-time dictator Moammar Gadhafi, who was later killed. The country has split between rival administrations in the east and the west, each backed by armed groups and foreign governments.
With more than 560 people wounded since the fighting started on April 4, the WHO said it was sending more medical supplies and staff to Tripoli.
"The leaders... agreed that parties must take urgent steps to resolve the conflict before Libyans lose control to foreign actors," the White House said. Egypt reportedly supported Haftar's forces, while Washington has called all sides to de-escalate and warned over rising Russian involvement.
President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi has called the strategic coastal city of Sirte a "red line” and warned that any attack on the town would prompt Cairo to intervene militarily to protect its western border with the oil-rich country.
Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, commended the role played by Egypt in ensuring regional stability, noting that the current circumstances the region is passing through entail “cementing pan-Arab solidarity and cooperation to confront the besetting challenges.” The UAE’s top diplomat’s remarks came during his meeting on Sunday with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi who reaffirmed his country’s support for the UAE during the critical stage the region is experiencing.
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