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Merkel lauds Haftar's willingness to abide by Libyan ceasefire as "good news"

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has welcomed Commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA) Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar's expressed readiness to honor the ceasefire in the country, she said Thursday following a meeting with Croatia's Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic in Berlin.

"Our foreign minister [Heiko Maas] had a meeting today with General Haftar. The fact that he is willing to comply with the ceasefire is good news," the chancellor underscored, hailing it as a precondition to achieve settlement in the country. According to her, the Berlin international conference on Libya should secure that the arms embargo banning countries from supplying weapons to parties to the conflict is observed.

Earlier on Thursday, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas travelled to Libya's Benghazi for talks with Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar where the Libyan commander gave assurances that he is ready to abide by the ceasefire.

Ceasefire and conference

On January 12, a ceasefire in Libya proposed by the Russian and Turkish Presidents Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan as part of a larger initiative to achieve peace in the country entered into force at midnight. The ceasefire's objective is to stop hostilities between the Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar and Fayez al-Sarraj's Government of National Accord (GNA) sitting in Tripoli. On January 13, representatives of the parties to the conflict arrived in Moscow for talks after which GNA envoys signed the ceasefire agreement.

Haftar took a pause to study the agreement. However, later he left Moscow without putting his signature to the document, claiming that he needed time to discuss the agreements reached with leaders of tribes that support him. In the early hours of January 14, armed clashes re-erupted in south Tripoli - the target of a decisive offensive declared by Haftar in December. The LNA issued a statement declaring "readiness and determination to achieve victory."

To break the deadlock, Germany is planning to hold an international conference on the Libyan settlement in Berlin on January 19, officially inviting Haftar and Sarraj to attend it earlier.

[Source: Tass, Berlin, 16Jan20]

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