UK foreign minister backs Libya peace plan

Boris Johnson has said the UK will throw its support behind a new peace deal to end fighting in Libya, during a visit to the capital Tripoli.

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British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson has declared that the UK will throw its weight behind efforts to end fighting in Libya, during his visit to Tripoli on Thursday.

Speaking from the Libyan capital, Johnson earlier met the head of the UN-backed Government of National Unity Fayez al-Sarraj where he spoke of his hopes for a united and stable Libya.

Johnson welcomed reports of a detente between the Tripoli-based authority and rival military leader Khalifa Haftar.

The prospect of a peace deal could be on the horizon between two of Libya’s biggest factions comes after Sarraj and Haftar met in Abu Dhabi earlier this week.

Haftar does not recognise the GNA’s legitimacy and has the backing of the UAE and Egypt.

But it is believed that Gulf states might want a quick end to the instability that has gripped the troubled North African country since 2011, particularly as Haftar has been unable to break the military deadlock in Libya.

Johnson said the meeting between Sarraj and Haftar “underlined the importance of Libya’s legitimate political institutions working together to break the political deadlock which is prolonging instability and the suffering of the Libyan people”.

“Libya’s political and social groups need to seize the momentum offered by the welcome meeting… to set out a path towards Libyan reconciliation and unity.”

He said a strong, centralised government was essential to defeating terrorism in Libya and countering illegal migration.

On Wednesday night, Johnson met in Tunis with his Tunisian counterpart Khemaies Jhinaoui and Tourism Minister Salma Elloumi on counterterrorism cooperation and boosting trade.

Tunisia’s foreign ministry said London was asked to review its advice for British nationals to avoid travel to the country.

This followed a 2015 attack at a Tunisian beach resort which left 38 tourists dead, including 30 British.

Before the beach attack, more than 400,000 British tourists visited Tunisia annually but this figure dropped to 20,000 visitors in 2016.

Johnson’s visit coincides with attempts to prosecute former MI6 spy Sir Mark Allen, with The Guardian saying a case against him might now be held partially in secret.

He is accused of being involved in the kidnap and rendition of Libyan dissidents back to the country where they faced torture under Muammar Gaddafi’s regime.

Gaddafi was overthrown in 2011, after popular protests were brutally put down by the Libyan dictator sparking Western intervention and a large-scale military uprising.