UN urges Libyans to prioritize national interest in November talks

Tunisia’s Foreign Minister Othman Jerandi and Stephanie Williams, the deputy special representative of the UN Secretary-General for Political Affairs in Libya, hold a press conference at Carthage Palace on the eastern outskirts Tunis on Monday. (AFP)
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Updated 14 October 2020

UN urges Libyans to prioritize national interest in November talks

  • Participants should take part on the condition ‘they remove themselves from consideration in high government positions’

CARTHAGE, Tunisia: The UN’s Libya envoy on Monday urged rival parties to place the national interest before political ambitions when they meet for talks next month aimed at ending a decade of bloodshed.

The North African country is dominated by armed groups, riven by local conflicts and divided between two bitterly opposed adminstrations: A United Nations-recognized unity government based in Tripoli and its eastern-based rival backed by strongman Khalifa Haftar.

Neighbouring Tunisia is set to host talks in early November including representatives of civil society, tribesmen, political leaders, and members of bodies representing both administrations.

“What we want to see in terms of participation is people who are not there for their own political aspirations, but for their country,” said UN envoy Stephanie Williams on Monday, after meeting Tunisian President Kais Saied.

Asked whether Haftar or unity government chief Fayez Al-Sarraj would be present, she said participants would be able to take part on the condition “that they remove themselves from consideration in high government positions.”

This included membership of the key Presidential Council, the prime minister’s job and ministerial posts, she told AFP.

The talks are intended to prepare for national elections, she added.

Tunisia’s Foreign Minister Othman Jerandi called for “a dialogue between Libyans that could lead to a political solution to the crisis.”

Saied spoke on Monday with his Algerian counterpart Abdelmadjid Tebboune, who saluted the renewed dialogue and said that Algeria, another neighbor of Libya, was “always at Tunisia’s side.”

Tebboune also spoke of a visit to Tunisia after the Nov. 1 referendum on constitutional reform in Algeria.

The Algerian president’s office confirmed that the two men had spoken via telephone.

“The President of the Republic, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, received a telephone call on the part of his counterpart Kais Saied, and they reviewed bilateral relations and his planned visit to Tunisia,” it said in a statement.

Tebboune “welcomed Tunisia’s organization of inter-Libyan dialogue under the auspices of the UN,” the statement said.

A previous agreement between rival Libyan sides, signed in Morocco in 2015, created a unity government that was never recognized by Haftar.

In April 2019 he launched an offensive to seize Tripoli, but was pushed back after over a year of fighting.

Since his forces were driven from western Libya, the rival sides have resumed talks on specific themes: Institutions, military and political affairs.

The Tunis talks will begin on Oct. 26 by videoconference, before continuing face-to-face in early November.


Iranian Parliament calls for block on nuclear inspections

Updated 30 November 2020

Iranian Parliament calls for block on nuclear inspections

  • MPs said the “best response” to Fakhrizadeh’s assassination would be to “revive Iran’s glorious nuclear industry”
  • Tehran allowed additional inspections as part of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)

LONDON: Iran’s Parliament has called for international inspectors to be barred from accessing the country’s nuclear facilities, in response to the killing of top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh.

In a statement issued on Sunday, MPs said the “best response” to Fakhrizadeh’s assassination would be to “revive Iran’s glorious nuclear industry” by halting the voluntary implementation of protocols that allow more intrusive inspections of the country’s nuclear facilities.

Behrouz Kamalvandi, spokesman for Iran’s atomic energy organization, told Iranian media on Saturday that the issue of inspectors’ access “must be decided on at high levels” of the country’s leadership.

The Supreme National Security Council, a body directly answerable to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, usually handles decisions related to the country’s nuclear program.

Tehran allowed additional inspections as part of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), widely referred to as the Iran nuclear deal, which eased crippling economic sanctions on the country in exchange for heavy restrictions on the development of its nuclear industry.

The JCPOA has faced heavy scrutiny from the Trump administration, which has taken several steps to roll back the various concessions made to Iran as part of the deal.