FM: meeting on Libya scheduled for March 1 in Tunis (interview)

Tunisia will host, on Monday, March 1, a meeting of foreign ministers of Tunisia, Algeria and Egypt to take stock of the outcome of contacts established by the three countries with the Libyan stakeholders ahead of a comprehensive political settlement of the Libyan crisis, Foreign Minister, Khemaies Jhinaoui announced on Wednesday.

He added that the encounter will also prepare for the summit meeting of the three presidents before sitting the Libyan parties down at the dialogue table.

In an interview with TAP, Jhinaoui said the president’s initiative on the Libyan issue revolves around four main axes: bringing Libyans from all parts of the political spectrum into dialogue, rejecting any military solution likely to aggravate the crisis in Libya and invite the Libyan protagonists to resolve the disputes and to concretise the Skhirat agreement (Morocco).

It is also a question of continuing to support a political solution in this country, under the umbrella of the United Nations.

This initiative was launched on the visit made by Beji Caid Essebsi to Algeria on December 15, 2016 and his meeting with Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika as well as the mission entrusted to him (FM) to meet Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi (December 20, 2016).

This initiative reflects the respect the Libyans have for President Caïd Essebsi who stood beside the Libyan people in 2011 when he was Prime Minister during the outbreak of the Libyan revolution on February 17, 2011, he added.

Among the reasons for launching the initiative, the minister explained, the negative and direct consequences of the Libyan crisis on Tunisia.

Libya was Tunisia’s second largest partner after the European Union with a trade volume of over $ 2.5 billion in 2010.

This is besides the terrorist threats to Tunisia due to the unstable situation in Libya, the spread of terrorist groups and the shaking up of state institutions.

The initiative of the president has “created a real dynamics in Libya,” insists the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

It has had a favorable response at the regional and international levels and was supported by Algeria, Egypt and the European Union.

It was also supported by other countries such as Germany, Italy and the United States, as well as UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres who affirmed the willingness to help make it a success.

Khemaies Jhinaoui also emphasized the importance of the contacts established by Algeria and Egypt to bring the points of view of the Libyan protagonists closer in order to overcome the obstacles hindering the inter-Libyan dialogue.

He recalled Tunisia’s interest in the Libyan issue and its efforts to create the conditions for dialogue between the Libyan parties and prepare the ground for the success of the initiative.

It was within this framework that came the proposal of Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States Slaheddine Jemmali and diplomat Wahida Ayari, in her capacity as representative of the President of the African Union Commission in Libya, the FM noted.

Dialogue as part of the President’s initiative remains open to all Libyan protagonists except those involved in terrorist crimes, Jhinaoui said, adding that invitations were sent to several Libyan actors to visit Tunisia, including General Khalifa Haftar. He called the latter “patriot” and “key player” in any solution to the Libyan crisis.

Invitations were also extended to other representatives of forces and political currents in Libyan west.

Regarding contacts made by president of Ennahdha, Rached Ghannouchi on the Libyan issue, Jhinaoui affirmed that the foreign policy of Tunisia is the responsibility of the president of the Republic and its implementation rests with the minister of the Foreign Affairs.

“There is no parallel diplomacy,” said the minister, adding that the role played by Ghannouchi, as he himself has repeatedly asserted, aims to support official diplomacy on this issue.

TAP

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