France’s FM visits Libya to boost reconciliation deal

Libyan Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohamed Taha Siala (R), receives French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (L),in the capital Tripoli on July 23, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 23 July 2018
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France’s FM visits Libya to boost reconciliation deal

  • Jean-Yves Le Drian met with Fayez Serraj, the prime minister of the Libya's UN-backed government
  • Le Drian said he will meet with Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar

CAIRO: France’s foreign minister visited Libya on Monday to encourage holding elections in the north African country later this year as part of a reconciliation agreement reached by the country’s main political rivals in Paris in May.
Jean-Yves Le Drian met with Fayez Serraj, the prime minister of the UN-backed government in the capital, Tripoli.
In a press conference with Libyan Foreign Minister Mohamed Siala, Le Drian said he will meet with Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, the commander of Libya’s self-styled national army, and the speaker of the country’s internationally-recognized parliament, Agila Saleh.
He said France will provide $100 million in financial support through the UN to hold parliamentary and presidential elections on December 10.
In May 2018, Serraj and Haftar agreed on a roadmap aiming to restore order in Libya, where lawlessness has fueled Islamic militancy, human trafficking and instability in the wider region. Moving toward parliamentary and presidential elections by the end of 2018 was a key goal of the meeting hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron.
The plan however faces obstacles in the north African country, where rival authorities rely on an array of unruly militias.
Libya slid into chaos after the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed ruler Muammar Qaddafi. France was at the forefront of the NATO airstrikes, carried out along with the United States and others.
Elections were held shortly after Qaddafi’s demise, but failed to bring stability. In the years since, Libya has emerged as a major conduit for African migrants hoping to reach Europe. Libya is split between rival governments in the east and west, each one is backed by militias, tribes and political factions.


250,000 Syrian refugees could return home next year: UNHCR

Updated 20 min 35 sec ago
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250,000 Syrian refugees could return home next year: UNHCR

  • 5.6 million Syrian refugees remain displaced
  • Some 37,000 refugees have been able to return home

GENEVA, Switzerland: Up to 250,000 Syrian refugees could return to their devastated homeland in 2019, while many others face problems with documentation and property that the Damascus government must help resolve, the UN refugee agency UNHCR said on Tuesday.
Some 5.6 million Syrian refugees remain in neighboring countries — Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq — Amin Awad, UNHCR director for the Middle East and North Africa, told a news briefing. Some 37,000 have returned this year, UNHCR figures show.
“We are forecasting in this phase up to 250,000 Syrians go back in 2019. That figure can go up and down according to the pace with which we are working and removing these obstacles to return,” Awad said.