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Trump ‘pushes Libya’s Haftar to endorse’ UN-backed government

US President Donald Trump has pressed for Libyan military strongman Khalifa Haftar to pledge support for the UN-backed Unity government, an Egyptian official has told The New Arab.

Trump reportedly told Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to pressure his ally Haftar and the rival parliament based in Libya’s east to pass a vote of confidence in the unity government headed by Fayez al-Sarraj.

“Trump has asked Sisi to play a part in ending the conflict and to make Haftar and Sarraj agree on a truce that would allow them to focus on combating extremists,” the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said.

The Egyptian army hosted Sarraj and Haftar in Cairo in February for talks. They were set to meet but Sarraj said they did not meet face to face.

The army announced that the two sides had agreed to form “a joint committee” to come up with amendments to the deal that set up the unity government.

Clashes erupted last month after the self-proclaimed Libyan National Army, commanded by Haftar, battled to seize the Tamenhant air base from militias backing the unity government.

Libya’s unity government headed by Sarraj was born of a UN-brokered deal signed in late 2015.

It has, however, struggled to assert its authority nationwide since taking office – Haftar has opposed Sarraj’s government and is backing the rival eastern authorities.

A senior Libyan government source told The New Arab last month that Sarraj had received an invitation to meet Trump and his administration at the White House in June.

The source said that Sarraj and Haftar could meet face-to-face in Washington.

The invitation came days after Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni met Trump to find a deal that could help end six years of war in Libya.

Libya has been wracked by chaos since the 2011 uprising that toppled and killed longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi, with dozens of armed factions battling for control of the oil-rich country.

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