By Ahmet Gurhan Kartal
LONDON (AA) - The British government shares Libyan Prime Minister Fayez Al-Serraj’s concerns over the latest situation in Libya, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said Thursday.
Hunt’s comments came following his and Prime Minister Theresa May’s meetings in London with the visiting prime minister of Libya.
May and Hunt discussed with Serraj “the UK’s commitment to building international support for a cease-fire and the need for all sides to make compromises in the pursuit of peace,” according to a government statement.
“The UK government shares Prime Minister Serraj’s grave concern at the situation across Libya, where the security and humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate,” Hunt said.
“Recent violence has caused the displacement of thousands of people and blocked emergency aid to casualties, including civilians. It is imperative that all parties respect international humanitarian law,” he said.
“In our discussions today, we called on Prime Minister Serraj to encourage all sides to commit to a cease-fire, secure humanitarian access for those desperately in need and return to UN-led political negotiations,” Hunt added.
“We’ve been clear that there can be no military solution in Libya -- diplomacy is the only way to bring this bloodshed and uncertainty to a close,” he said.
In early April, a renegade military commander, Khalifa Haftar, who commands forces loyal to a rival government based in eastern Libya, launched a wide-ranging campaign to take the capital Tripoli.
After more than a month of sporadic fighting on Tripoli’s outskirts, however, Haftar's campaign has failed to achieve its primary objective.
Haftar’s forces have managed to surround the city of Zuwara, located some 100 kilometers west of Tripoli, from the east and south. Zuwara is of considerable strategic importance as it controls the Ras Ajdir border crossing with Tunisia.
Haftar has also succeeded in taking the city of Garyan, located roughly 100 kilometers south of Tripoli, allowing his forces to cut the desert road linking Tripoli to the Dehiba Wazin crossing.
Libya has remained beset by turmoil since 2011, when long-serving leader Muammar Gaddafi was ousted and killed in a bloody NATO-backed uprising after four decades in power.
Since then, the oil-rich country has seen the emergence of two rival seats of power: one in eastern Libya, with which Haftar is affiliated, and another in Tripoli, which enjoys UN recognition.