By Hadi Fornaji.
Tunis, 19 November 2017:
The United States’ full support for the Presidency Council (PC) and its government of national accord as well as for the action plan of UN special envoy Ghassan Salamé to solve the Libyan crisis was reaffirmed yesterday by the US Deputy Secretary for State John Sullivan during talks in Tunis between him and PC head Faiez Serraj.
“The United States continues to urge all Libyan parties to engage constructively with Special Representative Salamé’s mediation, including with his ongoing efforts to help them negotiate amendments to the Libyan Political Agreement,” a statement from the US embassy read.
It added: “The Libyan Political Agreement remains the only valid framework for a political resolution to the conflict throughout the country’s transitional period. Attempts to bypass the UN-facilitated political process or impose a military solution to the conflict will only destabilize Libya.”
Both Sullivan and Serraj agreed that all Libyan and international parties had to back Salamé’s plan so as to bring about reconciliation and ensure that new elections take place.
Both Serraj and Washington strongly back elections as soon as possible.
The two men also discussed the need to stabilise Sirte and other areas formerly under the control of the so-called Islamic State as well as the importance of restoring Libya’s economy and dealing with humanitarian needs in the country.
US airstrikes on IS positions in and around Sirte last year were a major factor in its liberation.
Occasional airstrikes by the US Africa Command (Africom) have since continued, most recently last September. On the 22nd, 17 IS militants were killed and three vehicles destroyed in strikes said simply to be at “a desert camp”. Four days later, Africom reported that several more IS fighters were killed in two further strikes.
On the economic front, the US has been coordinating efforts to end the Libyan economic crisis, with a series of economic dialogue meetings drawing together senior Libyan and international figure. The most recent was in Tunis earlier this month.
Yesterday’s meeting, attended by US ambassador Peter Bodde and Taher El-Sonni, Serraj’s political advisor, comes in the wake of the this week’s UN security Council meeting on Libya at which US deputy UN representative Michele Sison warned that Washington and the international community would work against those who destabilised Libya.
She also said that those who disrupted the UN-led political process had to be held accountable.