Maas warns of arms embargo breaches

Arms deliveries to Libya cannot remain without consequences, said the German Foreign Minister ahead of a UN Security Council meeting.

Maas kritisiert Libyen-Einmischung
dpa

New York/Geneva (dpa) - German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas warned there would be consequences for states breaching the United Nations arms embargo in Libya, as political talks about the conflict-torn country's future began.

Maas said especially those nations that had vowed to uphold the embargo at the January 19 Berlin summit on Libya must be held accountable for violations.

"Breaches of the weapons embargo cannot remain without consequences," Maas told reporters in New York, where was set to participate in a UN Security Council meeting on Libya later on Wednesday.

The German minister said there would be discussions in the European Union over the repercussions for those found responsible for continuing violations.

Maas chaired the January 19 Berlin conference alongside the UN special representative for Libya, Ghassan Salame. 

International leaders agreed on a Libyan peace process with military, political and economic tracks and to end outside interference and military support for the fighting factions.

Arms deliveries to the North African country have so far continued, a situation that UN chief Antonio Guterres recently called a "scandal."

Guterres pointed to reports of equipment being delivered from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and through Egypt, as well as the involvement of Turkish troops, mercenaries from Sudan and elements of a Russian private company operating in the war-torn nation.

Maas said a new mission to monitor the failing embargo that EU foreign ministers last week resolved to set up would increase the pressure on violators.

"I'm sure there will be ramifications for those who continue to breach the arms embargo today," he said.

Political talks about Libya's future began in Geneva on Wednesday, according to the office of UN mediator Salame, although no information was provided about who was attending.

There had been doubts as to whether representatives of government chief Fayez Serraj and rebel force leader General Khalifa Haftar would attend the talks, held under the auspices of the UN.

Representatives of the rival parliament in Tobruk, in north-eastern Libya, said they would not attend the talks. The delegation returned to Benghazi from Geneva on Tuesday, a parliamentary spokesman said.

Mohamed Taha Siala, foreign minister for Libya's UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA), said on Monday that he was sceptical about the timetable, and that his government had not received an invitation.

Ahead of the talks, military representatives agreed to a ceasefire in principle, following mediation by Salame. Political leaders still have to approve their concessions, however, according to a statement by Salame's office earlier this week.

Libya has been in turmoil since the 2011 overthrow of dictator Moamer Gaddafi and has become a battleground for rival proxy forces.

Serraj's government is recognized by the UN but only controls a small area around Tripoli.

Since April, the eastern forces led by Haftar have been trying to seize Tripoli from the GNA. Haftar already controls large areas in eastern and southern Libya.

Turkey supports the Libyan government, while Haftar is supported by Russia, the UAE and Egypt.

On Wednesday, Moscow called on the parties to the conflict to abide by the agreement reached at the Berlin conference. "We haven't seen any results so far," Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said in comments carried by the Interfax agency.