By Libya Herald reporters.
Benghazi and Tunis, 13 April 2017:
UNSMIL chief Martin Kobler has had a surprise meeting with Khalifa Hafter after almost a year during which the armed forces commander-in-chief has repeatedly refused to see him.
The two men had apparently cordial talks at Hafter’s Rajma HQ outside Benghazi. Kobler messaged that it had been a good meeting which focused on the obstacles facing the implementation of the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA) and what would happen afterwards.
Hafter last met Kobler in December 2015, since when he has been increasingly critical of the UNSMIL chief and turned down requests for further talks.
Last September Kobler told the UN Security Council in New York that he believed that Hafter had to have a role in the new Libya. However only a week later Hafter and House of Representatives (HoR) president Ageela Saleh failed to repay the compliment but instead insisted that Kobler was part of the problem, had no further role to play in Libya and should go.
It is unclear why Hafter has now decided to see the UNSMIL chief. At the end of last month, Kobler’s new deputy, the Irish diplomat Maria Ribeiro was in Tobruk, where along with French ambassador Brigitte Curmi, she met Saleh and a number of HoR members. Among them was Tariq Geroushi, son of Hafter’s air force commander Saqr Geroushi. It seems very likley that Riberio pressed the idea of a new Kobler-Hafter meeting.