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Libyan PM open to security cooperation with Russia

Fayez Al-Sarraj, prime minister of Libya's UN-backed unity government, has expressed his government's willingness to step up security and military cooperation with Russia.

The prime minister's remarks came in a Monday statement issued by the government's presidential council following a meeting between Al-Sarraj and Russian Ambassador to Libya Ivan Molotkov, the latter of whom stressed his country's support for Libya's unity government.

Al-Sarraj also stressed the importance of Russia's role in establishing "global equilibrium", while also welcoming the return of Russian companies to the troubled North African country.

The prime minister also expressed his government's willingness to benefit from Russian expertise in the military and security fields.

Al-Sarraj went on to urge Moscow to use its international weight to help lift the ongoing arms embargo on Libya — and secure the release of frozen Libyan funds — to enable the country to overcome its current financial crisis.

The Russian ambassador, for his part, voiced his country's support for last year's Skhirat Agreement, which called for the establishment of Libya's current unity government.

Molotkov added that Russia was looking forward to reopening its diplomatic representation in Tripoli as soon as circumstances allowed.

The ambassador went on to emphasize his country's desire to reactivate a host of cooperation agreements signed with Libya earlier and the willingness of Russian companies to return to Libya as the country's security situation improves.

Libya has been locked in a state of violence and turmoil since 2011, when a bloody uprising ended with the ouster and death of longtime strongman Muammar Gaddafi.

Since then, the country's stark political divisions have yielded two rival seats of government, one in Tobruk and another in capital Tripoli.

Late last year, Libya's rival governments signed a UN-backed agreement to establish a unity government in an effort to resolve the country's six-year political standoff.

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