Egypt and Russia say they want foreign troops to leave Libya

Foreign ministers Sergey Lavrov and Sameh Shoukry say they have the same views on Libya

The foreign ministers of Russia and Egypt have called for foreign forces to withdraw from Libya to help bring its civil war to an end.

Sergey Lavrov and Sameh Shoukry met in Moscow on Monday to review their countries’ ties and regional issues of mutual interest.

Speaking through an Arabic interpreter, Mr Lavrov said Moscow supported parliamentary and presidential elections scheduled to be held in Libya in December.

Moscow also supports efforts to strengthen state institutions and the creation of unified armed forces in the country, he said.

Libya has been mired in turmoil and violence since an uprising in 2011 toppled the regime of dictator Muammar Qaddafi.

Until recently, the country was ruled by rival administrations, each backed by militias.

It is now introducing an internationally backed plan that, in theory, should bring security and stability.

“We [Egypt and Russia] share the position that foreign forces should pull out in a gradual and synchronised fashion,” Mr Lavrov said during a news conference with his Egyptian counterpart.

Addressing the news conference, Mr Shoukry said Egypt also wanted foreign troops to leave Libya and that extremist groups that have found a haven there in the past decade posed a “grave danger” to the country, its neighbours, the Sahel and the Sahara.

“They must be completely eradicated,” he said.

Russia and Egypt have supported Libya’s eastern forces in the conflict there, throwing their weight behind Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar of the National Libyan Army.

Turkey, on the other hand, has backed the former Government of National Accord, based in Tripoli, backing its loyal militias with Turkish military advisers and foreign fighters brought from Syria.

Neither Mr Shoukry nor Mr Lavrov mentioned Turkey by name. They did not mention the Kremlin-linked mercenaries from a Russian security group known to have fought on the side of Field Marshal Haftar in his failed bid to capture Tripoli last year.

Updated: October 4th 2021, 8:14 PM