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UN calls for Libya merc withdrawal

New York—The United Kingdom sent its fellow Security Council members an amended draft resolution on Libya Friday, calling for the withdrawal of mercenaries from the country, according to the text, seen by AFP.

The draft expresses the Council's "concern over the growing involvement of mercenaries in Libya," despite commitments made on January 19 at an international summit in Berlin, including "ceasing all support for and withdrawing all armed mercenary personnel."

The text also urged all member states "not to intervene in the conflict or take measures that exacerbate the conflict."

According to diplomats, Russia strongly opposes any mention of mercenaries in the text. No date has yet been set for a vote on the resolution.

Libya has been mired in chaos since a 2011 NATO-backed uprising that killed longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi, with two rival administrations vying for power.

The conflict deepened last year when military strongman Khalifa Haftar, who controls much of the south and east of Libya, launched an assault in April to seize Tripoli, the base of the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA).

Haftar has the backing of Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Russia while the GNA is supported by Qatar and Turkey.

The first version of the British draft, dated January 24, contained no mention of armed foreign fighters.

On Thursday, UN envoy Ghassan Salame accused "unscrupulous" foreign actors -- without specifying who -- of continuing to meddle in Libya's conflict, in violation of the Berlin commitments.

Russia is accused of facilitating the arrival of several thousand Russian mercenaries in Libya, while Turkey allegedly brought Syrian rebel fighters into the north African nation.

For the past 10 months, the Security Council has been unable to adopt any resolution on the conflict in Libya.

The amended British text "condemns the recent increase in levels of violence and demands the parties commit to a lasting ceasefire."

It also asks UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to "submit his views on the necessary conditions for, and proposals on effective ceasefire monitoring."

Unlike the first draft, which only mentioned the importance of the role of neighboring countries and unidentified regional organizations in contributing to a solution, the amended version specifically mentions "the African Union, League of Arab States and European Union."

Topics: United Kingdom , UN , Security Council , Libya , mercenaries
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