[WATCH] Muscat urges caution on ‘butting in’ as mediator in Libyan conflict

Malta remains in regular contact with all sides in the worsening Libyan conflict as prime minister cautions about acting as mediator

Prime Minister Muscat has warned against interference in the escalating Libyan conflict while stressing the need for a political solution
Prime Minister Muscat has warned against interference in the escalating Libyan conflict while stressing the need for a political solution

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has described Malta as one of the few countries with the credibility to speak to all sides in the Libyan conflict, but said it will not be looking to act as a mediator at this stage.

“I think we are one of the few countries who have the credibility to speak to all sides,” Muscat said, adding however that Malta was not going to “butt in and attempt to act as a mediator or anything of the sort”.

Asked whether the government had been in contact with the Libyan government since fighting escalated earlier this week, Muscat said that Malta was in regular contact with all sides in the conflict.

“If they want us to speak with them, we will, and they have every right and opportunity to ask, and as I said and emphasise, we are speaking with the government and we are speaking with the other forces that are there. The truth is that today, and it has been this way for a while, the reality in Libya is that you need to speak to everyone.”

The Prime Minister stressed that he did not believe that what Libya needed was interference from the international community at this moment. “The solution needs to be a political one but without a doubt, one that promotes stability in the country,” he said.

Muscat said there has been no request for assistance yet to treat those wounded in the conflict, as it had done in 2011. “Speculation that people or patients might be coming to Malta is just that because there has been no request,” he said.

At a meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council in Luxembourg this week, Malta emphasised that a military solution to the turmoil in the country would be counterproductive, with Malta’s permanent representative to the EU, Daniel Azzopardi, describing the latest escalation in the conflict as disconcerting.

Violence has escalated over the past few days after General Khalifa Haftar ordered his forces to take Tripoli. Fighting has raged between Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army and militias loyal to the UN-backed Government of National Accord.

On Monday, Tripoli’s only functional airport at Mitiga was bombed by Haftar’s forces.

The general, who is allied with the eastern-based administration, has ignored international calls to stop the offensive.

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