Tripoli threatens to suspend activities of foreign firms

Libya’s internationally recognised government asked 40 foreign firms to renew their licences or have their operations suspended, pressuring Europe to stop an eastern military offensive against Tripoli, news wires reported. The firms, including French oil major Total, have three months to renew their licences, the economy and industry ministry said in a decree, after an official earlier said their operations had been suspended.

The move was announced following the European tour of Fayez al-Serraj, head of Libya's internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), who met leaders of Italy, Germany and France to seek support against the offensive on Tripoli by strongman Khalifa Haftar. Hosting Serraj in Paris on Wednesday, French President Emmanuel Macron reaffirmed his support for GNA, while France had previously been accused by Tripoli of secretly supporting Haftar, something the French deny. In an interview with the France 24 TV after meeting Macron, Serraj urged France to adopt a “clear political position” on Libya, as Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian PM Giuseppe Conte called for an “unconditional ceasefire” in Libya and for political solution of the crisis.

Haftar is backed by Egypt and the USA while GNA's status with world powers is increasingly shaky, news wires reported. US President Donald Trump, in a phone call with Haftar last month, recognised his “significant role in fighting terrorism and securing Libya's oil resources”.

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