Egypt hosts talks over Libyan reconciliation process

Libyans demonstrate against the presence of armed militias in the city of Tajoura, southeast of the capital Tripoli on September 28, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 30 September 2020

Egypt hosts talks over Libyan reconciliation process

  • The Red Sea coast city of Hurghada has been playing host to discussions over stabilizing a cease-fire in the country

CAIRO: Talks aimed at paving the way for a political and economic solution to the conflict in Libya have been taking place in Egypt.

The Red Sea coast city of Hurghada has been playing host to discussions over stabilizing a cease-fire in the country, securing oil fields and oil installations, and establishing government institutions and infrastructure.

Officials taking part in the security meeting are working to set up military committees in the east and west of Libya with a view to them forming a unified force for the country and reaching a comprehensive settlement based on the outcomes of January’s Berlin Conference and the resulting Cairo Declaration.

Political adviser to the speaker of the Libyan House of Representatives, Fathi Al-Marimi, said all Libyan forces were currently gearing up for a meeting in Geneva next month with talks on the selection of a new presidential council — which would consist of a president, two deputies, a prime minister and two deputies representing the regions of Cyrenaica, Fezzan, and Tripoli — and economic, military, and security issues going forward.

During the first half of October, Cairo will host the largest conference for the Libyan national reconciliation process with the participation of officials, tribal elders, and other representatives, to map out a comprehensive peace plan.

Hassan Al-Mabrouk, a member of the preparatory committee for the reconciliation conference, said: “The committee contacted many leaders from various Libyan regions, including Misrata, Tripoli, and all regions of the west, south, and east, and they expressed their willingness to participate in the reconciliation conference in Cairo in October.”

He added that the committee urged Libyan authorities, the international community, and all relevant organizations to help solve the Libyan crisis and preserve the unity and sovereignty of the country without external interference. This would include the removal of mercenaries and the disbanding of militias.

National reconciliation could only be achieved through the immediate release of prisoners and detainees, Al-Mabrouk said, along with the implementation and generalization of a general amnesty law issued by the Libyan Parliament, and the return of displaced people.

He added that social leaders, scholars, and imams had a religious and social duty to succeed in bringing the nation together in peace and that 10 years of war, blood, destruction, waste of wealth and hatred among Libyans should provide sufficient food for thought.

“Holding the conference before the Geneva meeting will contribute to creating an atmosphere for the political transition by representing all groups in the next stage,” he said.


Lebanon, Israel end second round of maritime border talks

Updated 29 October 2020

Lebanon, Israel end second round of maritime border talks

  • The delegations met for around four hours for a second day straight at a base of the UN peacekeeping force UNIFIL in the Lebanese border town of Naqura
  • The talks have been shrouded in secrecy, with little information emerging about any progress being made

NAQURA: Lebanon and Israel, still technically at war, wrapped up a second round of maritime border talks Thursday under UN and US auspices to allow for offshore energy exploration.
The delegations met for around four hours for a second day straight at a base of the UN peacekeeping force UNIFIL in the Lebanese border town of Naqura, Lebanon's National News Agency and Israel's energy ministry said.
The talks have been shrouded in secrecy, with little information emerging about any progress being made.
"At the end it was determined that another round of talks will take place during the coming month," the Israeli energy ministry said.
A Lebanese source close to the negotiations said they would resume on November 11.
A first round of talks had been held on October 14, and the second had started on Wednesday.
After years of quiet US shuttle diplomacy, Lebanon and Israel this month said they had agreed to begin the negotiations in what Washington hailed as a "historic" agreement.
The announcement came weeks after Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates became the first Arab nations to establish relations with Israel since Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994.
But Lebanon has insisted the negotiations are purely technical and do not involve any political normalisation with Israel.
Lebanon, reeling from its worst economic crisis in decades, is hoping to settle the maritime border dispute so it can continue exploring for hydrocarbon reserves in the Mediterranean.
Exploration is on hold in an area off its coast named Block 9, as a section of it is located in an 860-square-kilometre (330-square-mile) area claimed by both Israel and Lebanon.
NNA said the Lebanese delegation carried with it "maps and documents showing the points of contention and the Israeli enemy infringing on the Lebanese right to include part of Block 9".
In February 2018, Lebanon signed its first contract for offshore drilling for oil and gas in Block 9 and Block 4 with a consortium comprising energy giants Total, ENI and Novatek.
Lebanon in April said initial drilling in Block 4 had shown traces of gas but no commercially viable reserves.
While the US-brokered talks look at the maritime border, a UNIFIL-sponsored track is also due to address outstanding land border disputes.
UNIFIL head Major General Stefano Del Col welcomed Tuesday what he called "a unique opportunity to make substantial progress on contentious issues along" the land frontier.