By Sami Zaptia.
London, 26 August 2020:
U.S. Ambassador Richard Norland spoke with Libyan political figures and officials on Sunday and Monday to assess progress in operationalizing the statements issued on Friday regarding a ceasefire and resumption of oil production in Libya, the U.S Embassy Tripoli reported.
He told Prime Minister Sarraj in a phone call on Sunday that his government’s statement, along with that issued by House of Representatives Speaker Ageela Saleh, represented very positive developments.
The embassy statement also reported that Norland agreed with Serraj on the need for the UNSMIL-hosted “5+5” format to focus immediately on modalities of a ceasefire and how to establish an effective demilitarized solution at the Sirte-Jufra de facto ceasefire line that begins the process of de-escalation and departure of all foreign forces and mercenaries from Libya.
The embassy also reported that Tripoli’s Foreign Minister Mohamed Siala told Ambassador Norland in a phone call that Libya welcomed the positive reactions from so many foreign states to Friday’s announcements, and agreed with the Ambassador on the importance of supporting the UN-led negotiations process.
It also reported that in a call with Ihya Libya chairman Aref Nayed on Monday, the Ambassador discussed the growing political pluralism in Libya as Nayed and Speaker Saleh expand the range of voices calling for a genuine intra-Libyan dialogue in support of a political solution to the conflict.
Its noted that while Nayed has been added to the group of stakeholders that the U.S. deems as influential or acceptable to reach out to, Khalifa Hafter, for now at least, has been dropped from this exclusive circle. Its a clear reiteration of the U.S. message that it will work only with those seeking a peaceful solution and the eviction of mercenaries – headed by Russian proxy Wagner.
Meanwhile, in a call with NOC chairman Mustafa Sanalla, the Ambassador confirmed U.S. support for arrangements that would permit immediate resumption of oil production with a transparent mechanism to ensure that revenues remain frozen pending negotiations between the Libyan parties on future distribution of resources.
Ambassador Norland also shared U.S. concern over alarming electricity shortages, especially in the context of the growing COVID-19 pandemic, and supported the right of citizens anywhere in the country to engage in peaceful protest. He urged Libyan leaders to work together to address the pressing needs of the people at a time of real opportunity for the country.