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Tunisia offers to mediate in Libya crisis

Libyan military strongman Khalifa Haftar has visited neighboring Tunisia for talks with President Beji Caid Essebsi, who offered to act as a mediator between rival Libyan factions.

Libya, which plunged into chaos after the ouster and killing of dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, has two rival governments and parliaments, as well as several militia groups battling to control its oil wealth.

“The stability of Libya is a necessary condition for the stability of Tunisia,” Essebsi said, calling on Libyans to “overcome their differences” and “to work to build a state.”

In a statement, he said Tunisia did not want to “interfere in Libya’s internal affairs” but rather to “facilitate dialogue between the different components of the Libyan people.”

Libya’s Government of National Unity, based in the capital Tripoli, is backed by the United Nations but has struggled to assert its influence across the country.

The head of a rival government, backed by Haftar’s self-proclaimed Libyan National Army which controls much of the country’s east and south, on Sunday urged the international community to recognize his administration.

Essebsi’s office said on Monday that Haftar had expressed his “gratitude to the Tunisian president for his continuing efforts to reach a settlement.”

A handout picture released by the Tunisian Presidency Press Service shows Libyan General Khalifa Haftar speaking after a meeting with Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi (not seen) on September 18, 2017 at Carthage Palace in Tunis. (Photo by AFP)

Tunisia has been impacted by lawlessness in Libya which meant terrorist groups, including Daesh, were able to operate.

A series of militant attacks have hit Tunisian tourist sites and security forces since a 2011 revolution that toppled long-time dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

In 2011, several hundred thousand people fled Libya into Tunisia as the uprising against Gaddafi gained momentum.

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