EU's Mogherini calls for humanitarian truce in Libya

EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini talks to media at the European Council headquarters before a meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, in Brussels, Belgium March 18, 2019. REUTERS/Yves Herman

LUXEMBOURG (Reuters) - The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, called on Monday for a truce in Libya and a return to political negotiations as fighting intensified between rival factions.

Mogherini, who chaired a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg, said Europe’s message should be for “a full implementation of the humanitarian truce ... and to avoid any further military action and escalation and a return to the political track”.

Mogherini, who also spoke to U.N. special envoy to Libya Ghassan Salame early on Monday, said EU ministers were united on echoing the G7’s call for eastern Libyan military commander Khalifa Haftar to halt his advance on Tripoli.

Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) said on Friday its forces had moved into Tripoli’s southern outskirts and taken its former international airport, threatening the internationally recognized government based in the capital.

The offensive by the LNA, which is allied to a parallel administration based in the main eastern city of Benghazi, intensifies a power struggle that has fractured the oil-producing country since the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

“We must try to do everything to stop the military operation so there is no civil war in Libya,” Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn told reporters.

Reporting by Robin Emmott in Luxembourg and Francesco Guarascio in Brussels; Editing by Philip Blenkinsop and Giles Elgood