By Jamie Prentis.
Tunis, 1 December 2017:
US President Donald Trump has underlined his support for the Presidency Council, its Government of National Accord (GNA) and the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA) as he welcomed Faiez Serraj to the White House today.
Serraj’s senior advisor, Taher El-Sonni, reiterated this view, saying Trump showed his full appreciation for the GNA and that the LPA “remains the ground until elections”.
El-Sonni added that in the half hour of talks, it was agreed that cooperation would continue on counter-terrorism, economic reform, energy and the reconstruction of Libya.
The statement that the LPA “remains the ground until elections” was explained by a Washington source who said that the visit, which had been planned for some time, was aimed at showing that the US remained supportive of Serraj and the Presidency Council (PC) and that it did not believe that the upcoming second anniversary of the Skhirat agreement on 17 December would bring an end to his term of office. It had nothing to do with the furore over allegations of slave auctions in Libya, the source added.
The agreement puts a two-year deadline on the PC and the House of Representatives, but Washington, like the UN, the Europeans and other argue that the two years has not started because the agreement has not yet been voted into law by the House of Representatives.
After his Trump talks Serraj met with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson who said that the US believed imposing a military solution to the conflict in the country “would only destabilise Libya and create opportunities for ISIS and other terrorist groups to threaten the United States and our allies”.
Any effort to bypass the UN-facilitated political progress would also cause further disruption, Tillerson said.
Both Serraj and the Secretary of State agreed that Libya and the international community had to throw their weight behind UNSMIL head Ghassan Salamé’s Action Plan.
Today’s events came after Serraj’s visit to the Pentagon yesterday where in talks with Secretary of Defense James Mattis he urged a partial lifting of the UN arms embargo to allow certain groups such as the new presidential guard and the coastguard to acquire necessary weaponry.
Serraj is accompanied by his foreign minister Mohamed Siala and El Sonni. US ambassador to Libya Peter Bodde has also been present at meetings.