Libyan strongman General Khalifa Haftar has agreed to abide by a ceasefire and said he was ready to participate in an international conference in Berlin on Sunday, Germany’s foreign minister said.
Libya’s UN-recognised government in Tripoli has been under attack since April from Gen Haftar’s forces, with clashes killing more than 280 civilians and 2,000 fighters and displacing tens of thousands.
The leaders of the North African state’s warring factions were in Moscow early this week at talks aimed at finalising a ceasefire orchestrated by Russia and Turkey.
“During my visit to Libya today, General Haftar made clear: He wants to contribute to the success of the Libyan conference in Berlin and is in principle ready to participate in it. He has agreed to abide by the ongoing ceasefire,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas tweeted after talks in Benghazi.
After the Moscow talks, Gen Haftar had walked away without signing the permanent truce, sparking fears about the shaky ceasefire.
Mr Maas had travelled to meet Gen Haftar in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi – one of the general’s strongholds – in a bid to persuade him to join in the peace initiative.
Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, welcomed the news, and said the conference must try to get a weapons embargo enforced again.
“It is a good message that he is willing to keep to the ceasefire,” Mrs Merkel said at a news conference with the Croatian prime minister on Thursday.
The trip came days after Mr Maas spoke with Gen Haftar’s rival Fayez al-Sarraj, who serves as head of the UN-recognised government in Tripoli.
Separately in Tripoli, Mr Sarraj announced he would attend the Berlin talks held under the auspices of the United Nations.
The battle over Tripoli is the latest unrest to wrack Libya since a 2011 NATO-backed uprising killed dictator Muammar Gaddafi. Since then, Libya has been caught up in fighting between rival armed factions, including Islamist militants.