The U.S. has warned the so-called Libyan National Army (LNA) led by putschist Gen. Khalifa Haftar that its affiliation with a Russian paramilitary force and perpetuation of oil shutdowns contradict the interests of both Washington and Libya.
"The U.S. delegation emphasized that the LNA's affiliation with the Wagner group, a Russian Ministry of Defense proxy, as well as the perpetuation of the oil shutdown are at odds with U.S. and Libyan interests, undermine Libyan sovereignty, and increase the risk of conflict that could damage critical oil infrastructure," State Department said Thursday in a statement.
Since January, Haftar's forces under LNA banner have shut down oil facilities in the central and eastern parts to damage the economy and put pressure on the U.N.-recognized Libyan government.
The statement came after a virtual meeting between officials of President Donald Trump's administration and representatives of the LNA, in order to address issues related to militias across Libya.
It underlined that both delegations had reaffirmed a desire to de-escalate the conflict and find sustainable solutions.
The U.S. delegation reaffirmed that armed groups that "attempt to spoil the political process or engage in destabilizing acts must not be tolerated-and risk international sanctions."
Washington raised its opposition to all foreign interference in Libya and discussed the imperative of an immediate ceasefire and return to U.N.-facilitated security and political negotiations, according to the statement.
Since April 2019, Haftar's illegitimate forces have launched attacks on the Libyan capital of Tripoli and other parts of northwestern Libya, resulting in more than 1,000 deaths, including civilian women and children.
However, the Libyan government has recently achieved significant victories, pushing Haftar forces out of Tripoli and the strategic city of Tarhuna.
The country's new government was founded in 2015 under a U.N.-led agreement, but efforts for a long-term political settlement failed due to a military offensive by warlord Haftar, who has been backed by France, Russian paramilitary group Wagner, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt.
The U.N. recognizes the Libyan government headed by Fayez Sarraj as the country's legitimate authority.
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