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Libya leader in France for talks as forces push for Sirte

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French President Francois Hollande on Tuesday met with Libyan Prime Minister Fayez Serraj in Paris, as forces aligned with Serraj’s UN-backed government continued their push against the last Libyan stronghold of Islamic State militants.

Serraj was recently in New York for a meeting of the UN General Assembly, where France and the governments of some dozen countries and regional bodies issued a joint communique reiterating their support for Serraj’s presidency council.

It came in spite of a recent political setback for Serraj’s nascent national unity government when forces linked to a rival administration in eastern Libya evicted his allies from the country’s oil ports.

Exports from Libya’s main oil ports, the mainstay of the economy, resumed on Thursday for the first time in two years under the authority of the official National Oil Corporation but with the ports still under the military control of the eastern forces.

Serraj’s Government of National Accord (GNA) is due to take office under a UN-backed peace agreement designed to end the five years of conflict that followed the overthrow in 2011 of dictator Moamer Gaddafi.

Militias aligned to the GNA have been backed by U.S. airstrikes in their campaign against Islamic State in the extremist militia’s stronghold of Sirte.

However the government has no sway in eastern Libya, home to the country’s elected parliament which has so far refused to recognise it.

The forces that now control the oil ports are loyal to the eastern military strongman General Khalifa Haftar, widely seen as behind the parliament’s stance.

Earlier this summer France announced that three of its troops had been killed in Libya, apparently operating in areas controlled by Haftar, prompting a condemnation from Serraj’s government.

(Edited by: Oluleye Abiodun/Julius Enehilhuere)
(NAN)

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