UPDATES WITH MORE COMMENTS FROM MERKEL
BERLIN (AA) - The Libya peace conference in Berlin agreed on new steps to support the cease-fire and observe the weapons embargo, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Sunday.
Speaking at a press conference at the end of the conference that brought together world powers and regional actors, including Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Merkel said all the participants agreed that there could be no military solution to the Libyan conflict.
“We reached an agreement on a comprehensive plan,” she said, adding that they also agreed on new measures to strictly observe the arms embargo.
“All the participants agreed that the documents we adopted today must also be approved by the UN Security Council, so that they would have an international, official significance,” she said.
Merkel said Libya’s warring parties agreed to designate members to a military commission with five members from each side as foreseen by the UN to monitor implementation of the cease-fire.
She said this was an important step enabling the UN to send invitations next week to the “5 + 5 military commission” to discuss further details and reach a permanent ceasefire.
Since the ouster of late ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, two seats of power have emerged in Libya: warlord Khalifa Haftar in eastern Libya, supported mainly by Egypt and the UAE, and the Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli, which enjoys UN and international recognition.
On Jan. 12, the conflict parties announced a cease-fire in response to a joint call by the Turkish and Russian leaders. But talks last week for a permanent cease-fire deal ended without an agreement after Haftar left Moscow without signing the deal.
Separately, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said after the conference, “Thanks to the Berlin meeting, it was possible today to receive the five military delegates of the side of Marshall Haftar. We have already three, and now we have two more on the side of the LNA,” referring to Haftar’s so-called Libyan National Army.
“So, we are now in conditions to convene in Geneva the military committee in the next few days.”
Guterres also said: “Member states, along with regional and international organizations have sent a strong signal that we are fully committed to supporting a peaceful resolution of the Libyan crisis.”
He highlighted three points raised at the summit, saying: “First, I cannot stress enough the summit's conclusion that there is no military solution to the conflict in Libya.” He added: “All participants committed to refrain from interference in the armed conflict or internal affairs of Libya.”
“Second, we called on all actors to refrain from any activities exacerbating the conflict,” he said.
Guterres also said he urged all parties to implement the UN Security Council arms embargo.
“Third, the return to the political process is essential,” said Guterres, saying all participants agreed to implement a full-scale cease-fire in Libya.
Libya’s internationally recognized government in Tripoli had been under attack by Haftar since last April, claiming the lives of more than 1,000 people.
Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Haftar’s main supporters, have been heavily criticized by Libya’s legitimate government for fueling the conflict.
Ahead of the conference, Erdogan, a key leader at the meeting, reaffirmed Turkey's strong support for Libya’s internationally recognized government.
He also slammed Egypt, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia for supporting Haftar’s forces, which, he said, “seek to carry out a coup in the country.”