TRIPOLI (Reuters) - The U.N. envoy for Libya said he hopes an international conference next month will produce a Security Council resolution committing foreign powers to stopping an escalating proxy war and an accelerated mechanism to enforce an arms embargo.
The conference being organized by Germany is set to be the first major diplomatic push to end fighting that began when eastern-based forces led by Khalifa Haftar launched an offensive on the capital Tripoli six months ago.
It will seek to rally key external players to halt increasingly flagrant violations of a U.N. arms embargo and pressure their allies inside Libya to commit to a ceasefire and a new political process.
“Expressions of hope and encouragement and verbal support are not what I’m looking for - I’m looking for a clear expression of the will to end the war in Libya,” U.N. envoy Ghassan Salame said in an interview.
“This needs to be expressed clearly in a U.N. Security Council resolution and in a follow-up mechanism in order to protect the implementation of this resolution.”
No date has been set for the conference, which aims to bring together the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council as well as the United Arab Emirates, Italy, Turkey and Egypt.
The UAE and Egypt have long backed Haftar, while France and Russia have also lent him support. Turkey and Italy - the only Western nations to have reopened embassies in Tripoli after previous rounds of fighting - have close ties to the internationally recognized government in the capital.
Salame said a U.N. panel of experts that monitors the arms embargo was investigating dozens of violations, and that foreign interference that was “even more blatant” than before included possible or potential use of foreign mercenaries and operators of foreign supplied drones.
The panel of experts is due to publish a report by the end of the year, but its detailed documentation of alleged violations in recent years - including by the UAE and Egypt - has not led to censure.
Salame said the reporting system needed to become quicker and more “reactive”.
“We need them to express themselves immediately after the fact and not wait for an end-of-year report,” he said.
“We need the sanctions committee to be more active in sanctioning those who violate the arms embargo, and we need the countries where those weapons are produced or brought to commit publicly to stop any transfer or arms to Libya.”
Libya has been divided into rival, shifting camps based in the east and west since 2014, three years after a NATO-backed uprising overthrew former leader Muammar Gaddafi.
The offensive against Tripoli, which quickly stalled on the capital’s outskirts, exposed international divisions. Haftar launched his campaign on April 4 during a visit to Libya by U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, 10 days before a national conference at the center of a peace process planned by Salame was due to take place.
Since then, the Security Council has failed to agree on any statement or resolution about the campaign. U.S. President Donald Trump called Haftar early in the campaign to recognize his role in Libya.
The conflict has left hundreds of civilians killed and injured and more than 120,000 displaced. On Oct. 6, an air strike blamed on Haftar’s forces hit a riding club close to the U.N. compound in Tripoli, injuring several children.
Salame said there would be a call for a ceasefire at the conference, which he said he hoped would take place in November.
He said the risks of further escalation - including the spread of militancy, a revival of migrant flows to Europe, disruption of oil supplies, and regional instability - could help produce a deal among foreign powers.
Editing by Nick Macfie
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