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Italy, US & Germany seek ceasefire in Libya after Egypt threatens to intervene if Turkey-backed forces attack Sirte

Germany, Italy and the United States pushed on Monday for a ceasefire and de-escalation of tensions in Libya following a warning by Egypt that it would intervene militarily if Turkish-backed forces attack the strategic city of Sirte. Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio and his German counterpart, Heiko Maas, said after talks in Rome that a ceasefire is urgent given the Egyptian threat. Di Maio also called for the quick naming of a new UN envoy and the strong enforcement of a UN arms embargo on Libya.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi warned over the weekend that any attack on Sirte or the inland al-Jufra air base by Turkish-backed forces loyal to the UN-supported government in Tripoli would amount to crossing a “red line,” AP reported. He said Egypt could intervene militarily with the intention of protecting its western border with the oil-rich country, and of bringing stability – including establishing conditions for a ceasefire – to Libya.

Eastern-based forces led by Khalifa Haftar and backed by Egypt launched an offensive to try to take Tripoli in April last year. Tripoli-based forces with Turkish support gained the upper hand in the war earlier this month.

The US National Security Council called in a tweet on Monday for Libya’s long-delayed political negotiations to resume.

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