G7 talks: EU's Borrell hails 'good news' in Libya as ceasefire holds

Antony Blinken urged new elections in December at G7 talks

FILE PHOTO: High-Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell speaks during a joint news conference with Kosovo's Prime Minister at the EEAS building in Brussels, Belgium April 29, 2021. Kenzo Tribouillard/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

The EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the continuing ceasefire in Libya was “good news” after G7 foreign ministers discussed the country's future in London.

Mr Borrell said he was optimistic about the situation in Libya, where a truce last October was followed by the establishment of a unity government in March that was welcomed by the EU, US and Britain.

Following the G7’s talks on Libya, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he had renewed Washington’s support for new elections in December.

He also called for the immediate withdrawal of foreign forces, after the Biden administration in January accused Russia and Turkey of breaching the ceasefire deal that ordered all foreign troops and mercenaries out of Libya.

“We stand with the Libyan people to find a UN-facilitated political solution to the conflict,” Mr Blinken said on Tuesday.

Foreign ministers discussed a series of global issues in London, including China, Russia and Iran, but Mr Borrell named Libya as one of the bright spots.

“Libya is good news; the ceasefire is still lasting and I think that we can be optimistic about the situation,” he said.

“So, you see, in general terms things are not going better, but there are some places, Iran can be one of them, Libya another, where we can have certain hope that things will improve.”

UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab also held talks on Libya and the Eastern Mediterranean with his Italian counterpart, Luigi Di Maio.

The Italian foreign ministry said Mr Raab and Mr Di Maio had given their support to a “common positive agenda” on the region.

Italy holds the rotating presidency of the G20, while Britain currently leads the G7, which was holding its final day of talks in London on Wednesday.

Italy, the former colonial power in Libya, is trying to reassert its role as a prominent ally of Tripoli.

Italy's Prime Minister Mario Draghi visited Tripoli last month and urged Libya’s interim leader Abdul Hamid Dbeibah to ensure that the ceasefire was strictly observed.

Mr Dbeibah took office in March at the head of a UN-backed unity government with a mandate to prepare for the planned December election.

It replaced two warring governments that had ruled eastern and western regions of Libya, which had been in turmoil since the fall of Muammar Qaddafi in 2011.

One of the rival administrations, in Tripoli, had relied heavily on Turkish military backing and Syrian mercenaries provided by Ankara.

They supported the Tripoli government against an offensive launched by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, who was backed by powers including Russia and Egypt.

Tripoli on Monday urged Turkey to co-operate over the withdrawal of troops from Libya.

G7 ministers wrap up talks ahead of leaders' summit 

G7 diplomats also discussed Russia, China, Syria, Iran and Myanmar during their three-day talks in London, their first in-person meeting since the onset of the pandemic.

On Wednesday, they were due to discuss Covid-19 as wealthy nations face growing pressure to share vaccines worldwide.

Rich nations' efforts are mainly directed through Covax, a UN-backed programme to help distribute vaccines to the poorest nations.

But analysts say that Covax will not achieve herd immunity because it will cover no more than 20 per cent to 30 per cent of poorer countries' populations.

Mr Raab said the issues were a “really good opportunity for the G7, together with our Indo-Pacific partners, to talk all of that through and come up with positive answers”.

The summit will set the stage for a G7 leaders’ summit in Cornwall, south-west England, next month.

More on G7 ministers' meeting

Anthony Blinken: G7 urges political solution to Syrian conflict

UK foreign secretary Dominic Raab says reports of release of Nazanin Ratcliffe-Zaghari are inaccurate