Germany aims to host Libya peace conference with UN

Plans for the conference are thought to still be at an early stage

In this Saturday Sept. 7, 2019 photo, fighters of the 'Shelba' unit, allied with the U.N.-supported Libyan government, aim at enemy positions at the Salah-addin neighborhood front line in Tripoli, Libya. The fighting erupted in April when the self-styled Libyan National Army headed by Field Marshal Khalifa Hifter launched an offensive to take Tripoli, clashing with an array of militias loosely allied with the U.N.-supported but weak government there. (AP Photo/Ricard Garcia Vilanova)
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Germany is planning to host a conference on Libya this year in conjunction with the UN to try to stabilise the country, where rival factions have been fighting over the capital Tripoli, Berlin's ambassador to Libya said on Wednesday.

The plans are still in the early stages, diplomats say.

Eastern forces loyal to Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar in April launched an offensive to take Tripoli, held by the Government of National Accord led by Prime Minister Fayez Al Sarraj, laeding to a stalemate.

UN Libya envoy Ghassan Salame last month unveiled plans for an international conference to bring together all parties to the conflict.

"Germany therefore initiated a consultation process with key international partners," Germany's ambassador, Oliver Owcza, said on Twitter.

"With sufficient preparatory work these efforts could lead towards a meaningful international event this fall."

Diplomatic sources said the event would be held in Berlin in October or November.

Mr Salame thinks Germany can mediate because it is seen as impartial in the conflict, in contrast to France and Italy, which have vast oil and gas interests in Libya, diplomats say.

Both countries brought Field Marshal Haftar and Mr Al Sarraj together at international summits in Paris and Palermo last year, but failed to achieve a breakthrough.

"Germany would be a good idea for the fact that it hasn't been exactly involved in supporting either side of the conflict but also because of its influence in the EU and beyond," said Emad Badi, a Libya researcher.

The conference's goal would be to try to enforce an arms embargo and for a ceasefire to allow Libyans to hold talks on power-sharing and eventual elections, diplomats say.