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Libya's foreign minister: 'We asked for Russia's support to evacuate foreign fighters'

Libyan Foreign Minister Mohamed Taha Siala speaks at the Eastern Mediterranean Workshop in Antalya, Turkey on 7 December 2020. [Orhan Çiçek - Anadolu Agency]
Libyan Foreign Minister Mohamed Taha Siala speaks at the Eastern Mediterranean Workshop in Antalya, Turkey on 7 December 2020. [Orhan Çiçek - Anadolu Agency]

Libyan Foreign Minister Mohamed Taha Siala announced on Wednesday that his country has asked Russia for help evacuating foreign fighters from the country.

Siala's statement came during a joint press conference with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Moscow. The visit by the Libyan official to Russia was courtesy of an official invitation from the Russian Foreign Ministry to discuss the political and military developments in Libya.

The Libyan minister announced: "We asked for Moscow's assistance to evacuate foreign fighters from Libya. We expressed our concern over seizing oil export revenues in a bank account that Libyans cannot benefit from."

Libyan and international reports condemned the presence of Russian Wagner mercenaries among the foreign fighters supporting General Khalifa Haftar in his fight against the internationally-recognised Libyan government forces.

Commenting on the role of Cairo, Siala asserted: "The visit of the Egyptian delegation (to Libya) came very late. We would have preferred that the Egyptian side was present alongside all the other parties to contribute to building confidence between them."

He continued: "I invite the parties who believe that the solution to the Libyan crisis has to be military to reconsider their stances, support the implementation of the peaceful solution and help to end the presence of foreign fighters."

Libyan Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha discussed on Sunday "common security challenges and ways to enhance security cooperation," with an Egyptian security delegation in the Libyan capital of Tripoli.

READ: Turkey warns Libya's Haftar against attacking its forces

Siala affirmed that: "The Government of National Accord (GNA) has handed over the required budget to the Electoral Commission to hold the upcoming elections on Libya's Independence Day (24 December) in 2021."

He also stressed that his country's government is responsible for the security and stability of the capital, expressing: "We hope that no party will attempt to inflame the war again in Libya."

Russia participated in a meeting of the UN Security Council in mid-December, during which all member states called unanimously for withdrawing foreign fighters from Libya. The call came amid local and international criticism against Moscow for sending the Wagner mercenaries to support the aggression of Haftar's militia in the country.

For years, Libya has been undergoing an armed conflict as Haftar's militias, with the support of Arab and Western countries, contest the internationally-recognised government over legitimacy and authority in the oil-rich country.

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