A senior official from Libya’s UN-recognized government voiced confidence Friday over US support and called for greater diplomatic efforts by Washington as strongman Khalifa Haftar’s forces try to seize Tripoli.
President Donald Trump in April sowed confusion when he spoke by telephone with Haftar — who is backed by US allies such as the United Arab Emirates — and praised his role in “fighting terrorism and securing Libya’s oil resources.”
“Before I came here, there were a lot of rumors about the US not supporting our government,” Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed Maiteeq said after talks in Washington with lawmakers and the State Department.
“I’m coming back home with a different message — that the US is standing by us as the legitimate government of Libya,” he told reporters.
The State Department, however, was careful in its comments on the visit, which came as Haftar’s two-month campaign is stalled on the outskirts of Tripoli after more than 600 people were killed.
A State Department official said the United States wanted Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army and the Government of National Accord led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj to seek a political solution in the country, which has been in chaos since the Western-backed 2011 overthrow of dictator Moamer Kadhafi.
The United States is “consulting with a broad range of Libyan leaders, as well as our international partners, to press for stabilization and bring Prime Minister al-Sarraj and General Haftar back to the negotiating table,” the official said on condition of anonymity.
Maiteeq said he was asking the United States to use its influence to end international support for Haftar, who is also backed by Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
“We are not seeking any monetary or military or financial support from the United States. We need strong diplomatic help and leadership,” he said.
“The United States has a lot of friends and allies in the region, and these friends and allies of the United States are interfering in Libyan matters heavily and strongly,” he said.
“We want the United States to send a clear message to these countries that they should stay out of Libya.”