Heads of the opposing sides in Libya’s crisis are planning to meet in Paris on Tuesday for talks to find a way out of the impasse, according to reports.
Khalifa Haftar, who controls the east of the oil-rich country, and the head of the UN-backed government Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj are expected to hold discussions under the auspices of French President Emmanuel Macron, according to France’s JDD newspaper on Sunday.
The report said Ghassam Salame, the newly appointed UN envoy for Libya, had confirmed the meeting would take place.
Salame declined to comment when contacted by AFP.
Macron’s office did not confirm or deny that a meeting in the French capital was planned.
It would be the second talks between Sarraj and Haftar in the space of three months after they met in Abu Dhabi in May.
Sarraj this month laid out a new political roadmap for his violence-wracked country, including the scheduling of presidential and parliamentary elections in March 2018.
Political rivalry and fighting between militias have hampered Libya’s recovery from the chaos that followed the 2011 uprising that toppled and longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi, who was killed in the aftermath.
Sarraj’s Government of National Accord has been struggling to assert its authority since it began work in Tripoli in March 2016. Haftar’s rival administration based in the remote east has refused to recognise it.
Western intelligence services fear that Islamic State jihadists are capitalising on the chaos to set up bases in Libya as they are chased from their former strongholds in Iraq and Syria.
Libya has also become the main springboard for migrants seeking to reach the EU by sailing to Italy in often flimsy and overloaded boats.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told Le Monde newspaper in June that Libya was “a priority” for the new French president and said there were “a security risk because of the trafficking of all kinds, including humans” from Libya.