Russian FM hosts speaker of Libya’s east-based parliament

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia’s top diplomat met Friday with the speaker of the parliament based in eastern Libya to discuss a political settlement for the conflict-stricken country.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at the start of his talks with parliament speaker Aguila Saleh that Moscow supports a cease-fire proposal brokered by Egypt last month. He emphasized that Russia will reach out to all parties in Libya to help encourage a political settlement.

“Russia has proceeded from the assumption that the Libyan conflict has no military solution, and only the Libyans themselves could settle their differences by political means,” Lavrov said.

Libya was plunged into chaos following a NATO-backed uprising that toppled longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011. The country has been split between a government in the east allied with military commander Khalifa Hifter and another one in Tripoli in the west supported by the United Nations.

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Hifter has been backed by Egypt, Russia, France and the United Arab Emirates, while the Tripoli-allied militias have been aided by Turkey, Qatar and Italy.

Last year, Hifter’s forces launched an offensive trying to capture Tripoli, clashing with an array of militias loosely allied with the government there, but the attack has failed. After making their way deep into the west and fighting in the suburbs of the Libyan capital, Hifter’s forces were driven back by Tripoli-based fighters supported by Turkey.

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