By Sami Zaptia.
London, 29 September 2021:
U.S. Army General Stephen Townsend, commander, U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) and U.S. Special Envoy and Ambassador to Libya Richard Norland visited Tripoli yesterday.
The U.S. Embassy reported that the meetings were focused on how the 24 December elections will support Libya’s path toward greater stability and unity, particularly in the security sector.
Townsend and Norland met GNU interim Prime Minister and Defence Minister Abd Alhamid Aldabaiba, Head of the Presidency Council Mohamed Al-Menfi, and the GNU Chief of Staff General Mohammed Haddad.
In addition, Townsend and Norland received the 5+5 Joint Military Commission for their first ever meeting in Tripoli in an effort to facilitate continued national reconciliation and the full implementation of the ceasefire agreement, the U.S. Embassy reported.
“U.S. Africa Command continues to support Ambassador Norland’s diplomatic efforts to ensure Libya holds presidential and parliamentary elections this December. We also support the UN-facilitated political reconciliation process and the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Libya,” said Townsend.
“We saw another piece of Libyan history today. Receiving the 5+5 Joint Military Commission in Tripoli together with Gen. Townsend was another step towards national reconciliation and an end to years of conflict,” said Norland. “As we discussed, the elections on Dec. 24 will also mark a key step towards a stable, unified national government with a mandate from Libyan voters. The United States will continue working to support full implementation of the ceasefire agreement including the withdrawal of all foreign forces and fighters in accordance with the wishes of the Libyan public.”
Reporting on the meeting, the Libyan government said ‘‘The two sides discussed the file of the mercenaries’ expulsion and the presence of foreign forces in southern Libya.’’, rather than the American version of ‘‘all foreign forces and fighters’’.
A subtle difference by the Libyan government to avoid including Turkish forces present in Libya.