By Libya Herald reporter.
Paris, 23 July 2017:
Faiez Serraj, the head of the Presidency Council, and Field Marshal Khalifa Hafter, the head of the Libyan armed forces appointed by the House of Representatives, are to meet in Paris, a French official has confirmed to the Libya Herald. The meeting, at the invitation of French President Emmanuel Macron, is expected to take place on Tuesday.
Fr the moment, however, Serraj’s office is refusing to confirm or deny that he is going to Paris and there has been no official comment from that of Hafter either, although sources close to him have said he will go.
The French government has maintained working links with both sides. France recognises the Presidency Council and insists the Libyan Political Agreement is the sole basis for resolving the Libyan crisis, but it has also provided intelligence support to the LNA in its fight against extremists in the east of the country.
French involvement with Libya has also moved on with the appointment by President Emmanuel Macron in May of former French defence minister Jean-Yves Le Drian as foreign minister. As defence minister, Le Drian favoured stronger backing for Hafter – a view he continues to push for as foreign minister.
The meeting is expected to be attended by Ghassan Salamé who is currently based in Paris and who officially takes over as UN special envoy to Libya at the beginning of August. Significantly, he chose not to go to the meeting a fortnight ago in The Hague between teams from the House of Representatives (HoR) and the State Council.
Hafter and Serraj last met at the beginning of May in Abu Dhabi in what was hailed at the time to be a breakthrough encounter but which has since been dismissed as a non-starter by many observers in Libya, in particular supporters of Hafter and of HoR president Ageela Saleh.
At the Abu Dhabi meeting, the two agreed on a number of issues, notably fresh parliamentary and presidential elections, a truce, the need to fight terrorism, the development a united army and an end to the UN-imposed weapons.
It would be surprising, if the Paris encounter takes place, if they do not repeat these, especially the elections call now that it has become a key policy of Serraj.
That may not be to the liking of Ageela Saleh, who has challenged Serraj’s right to call for anything.