By Elena Teslova
MOSCOW (AA) - One side in the Libya conflict has signed onto a cease-fire, but the other side departed Moscow early Tuesday leaving no signature, with the future unclear, according to Russia’s foreign minister.
On Monday the sides gathered in the Russian capital to discuss a cease-fire meant to end the hostilities in Libya and start a political dialogue.
After more than eight hours of talks, the head of Libya's Government of National Accord (GNA) Fayez al-Sarraj signed the deal, but Khalifa Haftar, the Eastern Libya-based commander, left for Libya today without signing the agreement, after asking for the night to mull the deal, said Russian’s Sergey Lavrov.
“During President [Vladimir] Putin's visit to Istanbul on Jan. 8, Russia and Turkey initiated a cease-fire in Libya,” Lavrov told a news conference in Sri Lanka.
“As a follow-up to this initiative, a meeting of Libyan representatives took place in Moscow yesterday with the participation of the foreign and defense ministers of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Turkey. We will continue our efforts in this direction, but the final result has not yet been achieved.”
Earlier a source in the Libyan delegation said Haftar is concerned about the terms for disbanding armed groups in the deal.
On Jan. 12, the warring sides of the Libyan conflict announced a cease-fire in response to the call of Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Since the ouster of late ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, two seats of power have emerged in Libya: one in eastern Libya supported mainly by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates and the other in Tripoli, which enjoys the UN and international recognition.
Turning to issues of Syria, Lavrov pointed to two territories in the country – the northeast, where the U.S. maintains an “illegitimate presence,” and the province of Idlib, where a new cease-fire was just reached over the weekend.
“Otherwise, the control of the Syrian government over Syria is steadily expanding,” he said.
- Russia ‘will not interfere’ in US-Iranian tensions
On the situation in the Persian Gulf, Lavrov said the escalation has been building up there since the U.S. claimed that Iran was “the root of all evil” in the region.
After the U.S. withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, he said, it “started to punish and sanction anyone who traded legitimately with Iran, which was not helpful for the de-escalation either. The culmination of this was the assassination [last week by the U.S.] of Gen. Qasem Soleimani who was on an official visit to Iraq, and this goes beyond any norms."
He added that Russia rejects escalation from any side, but will not intervene in U.S.-Iranian relations in a “physical sense.”
Lavrov called on the two countries to start a dialogue without any preconditions, saying Russia will assist if necessary.