The Latest: UN Security Council urges de-escalation in Libya
BENGHAZI, Libya (AP) — The latest on developments in Libya (all times local):
12:05 a.m. Saturday
The U.N. Security Council is calling on the forces of Libyan army commander Khalifa Hifter to halt all military movements and urging all forces in Libya "to de-escalate and halt military activity."
The U.N.'s most powerful body said after an emergency closed-door briefing by U.N. envoy to Libya Ghassan Salame on Friday that "there can be no military solution to the conflict."
The council also expressed its intention "to hold those responsible for further conflict accountable."
Council members reiterated full support for U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who left Libya earlier Friday after meeting with Hifter. The council "called on all parties to resume dialogue and deliver on their commitments to engage constructively with the U.N. political process."
The council statement underlined the obligation under international law to protect civilians and U.N. staff.
The G-7 foreign ministers have called on all those involved in military operations near Tripoli to immediately halt all activity and movement.
In a joint statement from the French Atlantic resort of Saint-Malo where they were meeting Friday for an official dinner, top diplomats from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States said the operations were "hindering prospects for the UN-led political process, putting civilians in danger, and prolonging the suffering of the Libyan people."
The ministers said they "firmly believe that there is no military solution to the Libyan conflict."
They reiterated their support to the United Nations to get Libyans on the path to peaceful elections "as agreed by the Libyan parties in Paris in May 2018 and in Palermo in November 2018."
The G-7 foreign ministers are meeting in Brittany to set out goals for the G-7 summit in Biarritz in August.
Britain says it called an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council because of Libyan army commander Khalifa Hifter's military advance toward the capital Tripoli and is urging his forces to halt their military activity and withdraw to previously held positions.
Britain's deputy U.N. ambassador Jonathan Allen told reporters as he headed into Friday's closed council meeting that there is no military solution "and we need to see everyone heading back into the political process."
Kuwait's U.N. Ambassador Mansour Al-Otaibi, the Arab representative on the council, said he is supporting the African Union and Arab League call for "de-escalation," a resumption of dialogue and peaceful solution.
France's U.N. Ambassador Francois Delattre called on all parties to urgently halt the escalation in fighting "which can only take the country back into chaos" and to work with the U.N. and participate in the April 14-16 National Conference "which is the only way out of the crisis."
The United Nations says it was important for Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to deliver personally to Libya's leaders "the U.N.'s commitment to the political process and the message that a military confrontation needs to be avoided."
U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Guterres went to Tobruk on Friday morning to meet the president of the Libyan House of Representatives. He then traveled to Benghazi, where he met Libyan army commander Khalifa Hifter, who ordered his forces on Thursday to march on the capital Tripoli before flying to Jordan.
Dujarric said U.N. envoy Ghassan Salame remains in Libya and will brief an emergency closed-door Security Council meeting later Friday.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says he is leaving Libya with "heavy heart and deep concern."
Guterres is wrapping up his two-day visit to Libya, where army commander Khalifa Hifter deployed his forces to march on Tripoli, which is under control of a rival government and militiamen.
"I still hope if possible to avoid armed confrontation around Tripoli," he said. "The United Nations remains available to facilitate any political solution."
The European Union is calling for calm in Libya and warns the situation could spiral out of control as militia forces are vowing to respond to any attempt by a rival army commander to seize the capital, Tripoli.
EU commission spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said on Friday that "we are deeply concerned by the military build-up that is underway in Libya and the escalatory rhetoric which seriously risks leading to an uncontrollable confrontation."
Kocijancic says that the EU calls "on all parties to immediately de-escalate the situation and cease all acts of provocation."
EU foreign ministers will discuss development in Libya at a meeting in Luxembourg on Monday. Kocjancic underlined the EU's support for the U.N. envoy to Libya and said that an upcoming national conference in the conflict-ravaged country is a "historic opportunity" to move forward and must be seized.
The Kremlin says that Russia isn't supporting Libyan army commander Khalifa Hifter who has ordered his forces to march on the country's capital, Tripoli.
President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov emphasized on Friday the need "to avoid actions that would lead to the resumption of bloodshed."
He told reporters that "it's necessary to take every possible effort to achieve a full settlement through peaceful diplomatic means" in Libya.
Asked if Russia was supporting Hifter, Peskov said: "No, Moscow isn't involved in that in any way."
Hifter on Thursday ordered his forces to march on Tripoli, the seat of Libya's U.N.-backed government, sparking fears of a major showdown with rival militias.
Italy's interior minister, Matteo Salvini, says an escalation in Libya puts at risk the stability along the southern rim of the Mediterranean Sea.
Salvini told reporters on the sidelines of a G-7 meeting in France on Friday that he's "very worried about Libya" and added that "the balance of the entire Mediterranean is at stake."
He says no country should interfere for its own "economic and commercial interests" — comments likely were aimed at whoever is backing the commander of the self-styled Libyan National Army, Khalifa Hiftar, who ordered his forces on Thursday to take over the capital, Tripoli.
Salvini said he told his G-7 allies: "We need to throw water on the fire and not gasoline."
The Italian also said he had a bilateral with the American delegation, which said that they were trusting in Italy for stability of the area.
Libyan militias in the country's west are vowing to confront a rival army commander's attempt to seize the capital, Tripoli, raising the prospect of renewed civil war.
The advancing forces of Khalifa Hifter, who runs the self-styled Libya National Army based in the country's east, have sparked fears of a major showdown with the militias that control Tripoli.
The militias from the western cities of Zawiya and Misarata posted on social media early on Friday that they're mobilizing to confront Hifter, hours after he ordered his fighters to march on Tripoli.
They posted: "We are the revolutionaries and the elders ... we declare we are on full mobilization and war."
Since the 2011 uprising that ousted and killed Moammar Gadhafi, Libya has slid into chaos and frequent spasms of violence.