Rival powers in Libya have agreed to form a committee to explore amending a UN-backed deal to end the country’s political turmoil, Egypt announced on Wednesday after hosting talks. The head of Libya’s unity government Fayez al-Sarraj and rival army chief Marshal Khalifa Haftar had been in Cairo this week for talks mediated by the Egyptian army.
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They agreed to set up “a joint committee” to formulate amendments to the deal that set up the unity government, the military said in a statement. Libyan media reported that Sarraj and Haftar did not meet face to face during the talks in Cairo.
Sarraj’s UN-backed Government of National Accord has struggled to assert its authority across the North African country since starting work in Tripoli nearly a year ago. Haftar, whose forces control much of the eastern Cyrenaica region, is backed by a parliament based in the east that has refused to pass a vote of confidence in the unity government.
Sarraj met Haftar in January last year in the eastern town of Al-Marj shortly after he was named GNA head. The UN-brokered deal gave Haftar no role in the unity government, but the Egypt-backed strongman made clear he was a key player when he seized control of Libya’s main eastern oil export terminals in September.
UN envoy Martin Kobler said last week that talks had made progress on “possible amendments” to the deal, notably on Haftar’s future role. A source close to Haftar said yesterday that the strongman had been seeking guarantees that any changes that were agreed would not be blocked by powerful militias from Libya’s third city Misrata that have been one of the main armed supports for the unity government. Tunisia’s foreign ministry said today that Tunisia, Algeria and Egypt’s top diplomats would meet on March 1 in Tunis to discuss the Libyan crisis.
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