By Tim Nanns
Egyptian Assistant Foreign Minister Osama Magdoub received UN Special Envoy to Libya Bernardino Leon on Monday at the Foreign Ministry in Cairo.
This comes as part of “Egypt’s efforts to discuss all possible ways to support the current political dialogue” in Libya, according to a ministry statement on Monday.
Egypt has been hosting several conferences, including a meeting of Libyan tribal elders in May, to support the dialogue in Libya. However, it has also been accused of delivering weapons to the internationally recognised government in Tobruk despite a UN arms embargo, in place since the revolution of 2011.
Magdoub reemphasised the Egyptian position that there is no substitute for a “political solution to the current crisis” while Leon, not for the first time in the dialogue process, expressed optimism regarding the current dialogue round, stressing the need for an agreement after the recent advance of “Islamic State”-affiliated groups.
Meanwhile, in a statement released by the UN Support Mission for Libya (UNSMIL), Leon condemned the storming of the Tunisian Consulate earlier this week, noting the “principle of inviolability of diplomatic and consular premises”.
In Libya, however, unconfirmed reports indicate that Derna has now been fully liberated from “Islamic State” after local Islamists started clashing with the militants earlier this week.
“A massacre”: US strikes at Al-Qaeda
Meanwhile, the US targeted the Algerian Al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamist Mokthar Belmokhtar, infamous for a 2013 attack on an Algerian gas plant that led to the death of more than 30 civilians, including three Americans, making him a prime target for US forces.
While the Libyan government claimed Belmokhtar was killed in the strike, Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steve Warren only confirmed on Sunday that the US targeted the Algerian but claimed they were still “continuing to assess the results”, indicating the Pentagon was less sure about the fate of Belmokthar than the Tobruk government.
Unconfirmed reports from Libya, namely from Libyan newspaper Al-Wasat, indicate that the strike killed more than 30 people and wounded even more. The local Al-Qaeda group claimed that the meeting targeted by the US was held to coordinate on how to stop “extremist groups”, referring to “Islamic State”.
Al-Wasat cites a source who refers to the strike as “a massacre”, describing the sight of charred bodies and scattered body parts.