France reopens Libyan embassy to show support for interim government

France will resume its embassy in the Libyan capital Tripoli next week in a gesture of support for the conflict-torn country’s interim government, President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday.

Macron said France owed “a debt to Libya and the Libyans, which is a decade of disorder.”

Libya was thrown into chaos when an uprising in 2011 – with the support of a NATO military operation originally led by France – overthrew the long-serving ruler Moammar Gadhafi, who was later killed.

Macron spoke after a meeting in Paris with Mohammad Younes Menfi and Musa al-Koni, President and Vice-President of the Libyan Presidential Council. The transitional government took power last week.

Libya’s new presidential councilor Mohamed al-Menfi and VP Moussa al-Koni at the French presidential palace for talks with Emmanuel Macron on their first official visit abroad

– Catherine Norris-Trent (@ cnpraatF24) March 23, 2021

“There will be no peace ‘in the wider region’ if we cannot bring peace and stability to Libya, if we do not succeed in eradicating terrorist groups and all kinds of smugglers,” Macron said.

He added that priority should be given to maintaining the ceasefire, leading the country to elections scheduled for December and uniting Libya’s armed forces to support the transition.

The oil-rich country has in recent years been divided between rival eastern and western-based administrations, each supported by armed groups and foreign governments.

Macron also said that France and its allies want to ensure that all foreign fighters, especially those from Russia and Turkey, leave Libya “as soon as possible.”

Earlier this month, the UN Security Council called on countries with troops and mercenaries in Libya to withdraw them “without delay.” The UN has estimated that there are 20,000 foreign fighters in Libya, including Syrians, Turks, Sudanese and Russians.

Menfi thanked France for its “remarkable” support for a peaceful solution to Libya’s civil war. The French embassy in Tripoli will resume on Monday.

LIbya’s interim government, which includes a three-member presidential council and a cabinet, took power under international pressure to implement a UN-mediated political roadmap. The roadmap, approved by a UN-picked Libyan political forum last year, set for December 24 general elections.