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France denies supporting Hafter but says he should be in a wider Libyan government

France wants the Presidency Council and the Government of National accord led by Faiez Serraj to succeed but it also believes that it has to be widened out to “include all the Libyan political forces from all the Libyan regions”, a spokesman for the French foreign ministry said today. He was stressing comments made on TV by French foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault after the meeting in Paris yesterday of representatives from Egypt, France, German, Italy, Qatar, Spain, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, UK, UAE, USA, as well as the EU foreign policy chief and Martin Kobler, the UN Special Envoy to Libya.

In his TV interview with TV5 Monde, Ayrault said that the divergent movements and personalities in Libya had to be brought together in Serraj’s government so that it could fight terrorism and enable the oil economy to get going again for the benefit of all the Libyan people.

For that reason, Serraj “has to make new proposals to expand his government – I think in particular to find a place for General Haftar who is present militarily in the east so that all Libyan forces are united to develop the country”, he said.

Only if the Libyans united would they be able to fully defeat the terrorists in Benghazi and Sirte.

Asked about reports that France had been helping Hafter, Ayrault firmly rejected the idea insisting that Paris supported only “the government of Mr Serraj which is the government of national accord”. The army was responsible for Libya’s defences but overall control of it had to be in civil hands, he said.

As to the oil, whether in the east or the west, it too had to be under the GNA’s ultimate control, and in the hands of the NOC.

The reason why France and Europe were so concerned Libya, he said, was first and foremost because they want stability in Libya for the sake of the Libyans but also because Libya is not far away and is a land of passage for tens of thousands of migrants fleeing misery in their own countries.

Ayrault did not say what the practical outcome of the Paris meeting had been, nor whether he thought it had been a success.

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