By Libya Herald reporters.
Tripoli/Benghazi/Tunis, 21 December 2017:
For the second time in three months, French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has flown to Libya to persuade Presidency Council head Faiez Serraj and Field Marshal Khalifa Hafter to work together in support of the action plan of UN special envoy Ghassan Salamé, designed to resolve the Libya crisis.
The visit comes just four days after Hafter declared the Libyan Political Agreement over, that Serraj, the Presidency Council and its government of national accord were illegitimate, and that he would no longer work with UNSMIL on any its proposals. His Libyan National Army would now put an end to Libya’s divisions, he had declared.
In a flying visit this morning to Tripoli this morning, Le Drian first met Serraj and his foreign minister Mohamed Siala. Also attending were his political advisor Taher El-Sonni, French ambassador Brigitte Curmi and Libyan and French foreign ministry officials.
According to a PC press statement, the two “discussed the developments of the political situation, reviewed the prospects for Libyan-French cooperation and issues of common concern”.
However, a source close to Le Drian told the Libya Herald that the French minister’s main aim was to get Serraj and Hafter to support the Salamé action plan and to agree to work together for elections next year, in line with the accord they signed when they met in Paris last July.
At a press conference afterwards, Le Drian said that the timetable of the UN action plans was “the indispensible political solution for Libya and it must be carried out now with the utmost speed.” France completely backed the plan, he declared.
According to the PC statement, Serraj assured Le Drian of his commitment both to the Paris agreement and to elections as well as his support for Salamé’s efforts.
Following his discussions with Serraj and before the press conference, Le Drian then had a separate meeting with Siala together with Sadek Assour, the head of investigations at the attorney general’s office, Mohamed Bishr, head of the anti-illegal migration department, and the deputy interior minister. This covered illegal migration and conditions at migrant detention centres
At the press conference, Le Drian spoke of Libya’s willingness to work with France to combat human trafficking. Meanwhile, Siala announced that any migrant detained could stay in Libya if he or she found a job. This surprised those in attendance, given that no migrants are allowed to leave the centres in search of work and no Libyans allowed in to offer them a job.
Le Drian then visited a migrant detention centre in Tripoli before flying to Benghazi for talks with Hafter. Before meeting him he said his message to the fiedl marshal was that “there is no alternative to the LPA, “and that also goes for you [Hafter]. You have an international image; put it at the service of your country,” he said.
The meeting with Hafter took place at the fild marshal’s Rajmah headquarters, near Benina airport.
Le Drian was last in Libya at the beginning of September to try and persuade Serraj and Hafter to stick to the Paris agreement. His whistle stop tour then took in not just Tripoli and Benghazi but also Misrata and Tobruk.