Egypt’s Sisi meets Libyan strongman Haftar in Cairo, report state media

Libya’s eastern-based commander Khalifa Haftar attends General Security conference, in Benghazi, Libya, October 14, 2017. — Reuters pic
Libya’s eastern-based commander Khalifa Haftar attends General Security conference, in Benghazi, Libya, October 14, 2017. — Reuters pic

CAIRO, April 14 — Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi met today with Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar, whose forces are fighting for control of the capital Tripoli, state media reported.

They “are discussing the latest developments in Libya” at the presidential palace in Cairo, state newspaper Al Ahram said.

A presidential spokesperson did not return AFP’s calls for confirmation.

Sisi has been an ardent supporter of Haftar’s forces, which control swathes of eastern Libya and launched an offensive on April 4 to take the capital.

Fighting near Tripoli has killed 121 people and wounded 561, the World Health Organization said today.

Haftar has defied international calls to halt his battle against fighters loyal to the UN-backed Government of National Accord based in Tripoli.

Earlier this month, Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shoukry cautioned that the conflict could not be solved militarily.

His remarks came at a Cairo press conference with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, who also called for a political solution among all sides in Libya.

The Libyan commander has modelled his political style of authoritarian leadership after Sisi, himself an army general turned president.

Egypt has provided funding and arms to his Libyan National Army, seeing him as a bulwark against Islamist militants.

Haftar, who was exiled in the United States for two decades, returned to Libya in 2011 when the revolution erupted, commanding forces that eventually toppled dictator Moamer Kadhafi.

The oil-rich north African country has been in turmoil ever since with successive weak governments in place and several Islamist militias battling for territorial control. — AFP

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