Macron wants to meet Libya’s Haftar to push ceasefire - French foreign minister

French President Emmanuel Macron said he wants to meet Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar. (File/AFP)
Updated 16 May 2019
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Macron wants to meet Libya’s Haftar to push ceasefire - French foreign minister

PARIS: President Emmanuel Macron wants to meet Libyan eastern commander Khalifa Haftar to push a cease-fire and resume peace talks, France’s foreign minister said on Tuesday.
Macron last week called for a cease-fire in the month-long battle for Libya’s capital Tripoli after meeting UN-backed Libyan Prime Minister Fayez Al-Serraj.
Tripoli is home to the recognized administration but some European countries such as France have also supported eastern military commander Haftar as a way to fight militants in a country in chaos since the toppling of Muammar Qaddafi in 2011.
A day after meeting Macron, the internationally recognized government asked 40 foreign firms including French oil major Total to renew their licenses or have their operations suspended.
“The situation in Libya is extremely worrying because the proposed UN roadmap to both parties — and which almost reached a positive conclusion — ... has today failed on the one hand because of Field Marshal Haftar’s initiative and Serraj’s non-initiative,” Jean-Yves Le Drian told lawmakers.
“It’s for this reason that the president wanted to meet one and the other to support the UN initiative.”
The French presidency said there was no meeting planned at this stage.


Israel eases Gaza fishing restrictions after truce

Updated 3 min 51 sec ago
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Israel eases Gaza fishing restrictions after truce

  • Israel extended the fishing limit to up to 15 nautical miles
  • The move restores the fishing zone to the limits set in April ahead of Israel’s general election

GAZA CITY: Israel announced Tuesday it had eased fishing restrictions off the blockaded Gaza Strip after a cease-fire with Hamas ended a deadly escalation earlier this month.
Israel extended the fishing limit to up to 15 nautical miles, said COGAT, the defense ministry unit that oversees such regulations.
The move restores the fishing zone to the limits set in April ahead of Israel’s general election.
Gaza fishing union official, Zakaria Bakr, however told AFP on Tuesday morning it had yet to be informed of any changes.
COGAT did not provide further details, but in April the limit was set at six nautical miles in the north near the Israeli border, 12 off central Gaza and 15 in the south near the Egyptian border, according to the fishing union.
Israel banned fishing completely when the two-day flare-up of violence began earlier this month, but lifted the ban with a restriction of up to 12 nautical miles following the truce.
The 15-nautical-mile limit is the largest allowed in years by Israel, which has fought three wars with Palestinian militants in the enclave and has blockaded it for more than a decade.
But human rights activists note that it still falls short of the 20 nautical miles agreed under the Oslo accords of the 1990s.
Israeli authorities did not say the move was linked to the truce reached earlier this month with Hamas, the Islamist movement that rules the Gaza Strip.
But Palestinian officials said at the time of the May 6 cease-fire that it included Israel taking steps to ease its blockade.
Israel media reported late Monday that the cease-fire, brokered by Egyptian and UN officials, is a six-month deal that includes the expansion of the fishing zone as well as the transfer of medicines and other aid to Gaza.
Negotiations are to also take place on issues including Gaza’s severe electricity shortage and border crossings, the reports said.
In return, Hamas would calm protests along the border and halt maritime demonstrations aimed at breaking the blockade.
Hamas denied the reports and Israel did not immediately comment.