BERLIN 

Germany, France and Italy have called on conflicting parties in Libya to “immediately” and “unconditionally” cease fighting and engage in talks for a sustainable and credible cease-fire agreement.

In a joint statement released Thursday night, the three EU member states voiced concern over rising tensions and regional instability amid recent threats to intervene by Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the president of neighboring Egypt.

“In light of the growing risks of a deterioration of the situation in Libya and regional escalation, France, Germany and Italy call on all Libyan parties to immediately and unconditionally cease fighting and to suspend the ongoing military build-up throughout the country,” they stressed.

The statement follows last week’s threat by al-Sisi, a key supporter of Libyan warlord Khalifa Haftar, to militarily intervene in Libya.

Libya’s UN-recognized government in Tripoli, which recently liberated strategic cities from warlord Haftar’s forces, slammed al-Sisi’s “unacceptable” comments, saying they amount “to a declaration of war.”

-‘End outside interference’

In their joint statement, Germany, France, and Italy called on all foreign actors to end all interference and to fully respect the UN Security Council arms embargo.

Despite the embargo, Haftar’s forces have received large supplies of military equipment from the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Russia.

Long reluctant to cease fighting, Haftar balked at signing a cease-fire deal at the Berlin conference this January, despite strong support by world powers and regional actors for UN-led talks towards a political solution.

Germany, France, and Italy have called on Libyan parties to resume UN-led talks through convening a long-delayed “5+5 military committee” meeting.

“[We] encourage the swift conclusion of negotiations within the 5+5 military working group under the auspices of UNSMIL to enable the signature of a sustainable and credible ceasefire agreement,” they stressed.

“This is an essential element to create the necessary climate for the concrete resumption of inter-Libyan political dialogue which will enable a sustainable resolution to the conflict. “

Libya has been torn by civil war since the ouster of late ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Libya’s new government was founded in 2015 under a UN-led agreement, but efforts for a long-term political settlement failed due to the military offensive by Haftar’s forces, resulting in civilian chaos and more than 1,000 deaths.

In March, the Libyan government launched Operation Peace Storm to counter attacks on the capital, and recently retook strategic locations, including the Al-Watiya airbase and the city of Tarhuna, Haftar’s final stronghold in western Libya.

Turkey has stressed the need for a political solution in Libya, decrying efforts by Haftar to oust the country’s legitimate government.

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