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Chinese UN ambassador urges political solution to Libyan crisis

China Daily | Updated: 2019-05-23 07:29

Fighters loyal to Libya's UN-backed government fire weapons during a clash with forces loyal to Khalifa Haftar near Tripoli, Libya, on Tuesday. GORAN TOMASEVIC/REUTERS

China's permanent representative to the United Nations on Tuesday called for adherence to a political settlement of the Libyan crisis and proper handling of sanctions against the country, Xinhua News Agency reported, as the top UN envoy for Libya warned that the Arab country is on the verge of civil war that could lead to permanent division.

"There is a need to stick to a political solution. China has always believed that the Libyan issue must be settled through political means," Ma Zhaoxu told the Security Council.

"We hope that parties to the conflict in Libya will put the interests of the country and the people first, respond to the calls of the international community for a cease-fire as soon as possible, ease the tensions and return to the path of settlement through peaceful dialogue and consultation."

He added that the safety and security of civilians must be protected and the humanitarian situation in the country must be improved.

While the sanctions on Libya should continue to be enforced, they must be properly handled so that they do not negatively impact civilians, the Chinese envoy said.

The Chinese ambassador asked for synergy of international efforts toward a political settlement in Libya.

The international community should respect Libya's sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity. The countries of influence should push for resolution of differences among the parties, help build trust and provide constructive assistance to the parties to achieve a cease-fire and return to political dialogue, he said.

510 deaths in weeks

Since early April, rebel forces led by Khalifa Haftar have drawn closer to the capital of Tripoli. Weeks of fighting have killed 510 people and wounded 2,467, according to the latest toll from the World Health Organization. More than 75,000 people have fled their homes, according to the UN, while 100,000 are trapped by the conflict, Agence France-Presse reported. Terrorist activities are re-emerging. All these undermine Libya's political security and socio-economic stability and development, the Chinese ambassador said.

The situation also has a spillover effect to the Sahel region and the Mediterranean coast, Ma warned.

China is highly concerned about the developments in Libya. The international community should heighten its attention to Libya and work together to push for an early solution to the Libyan crisis, he said.

China is willing to work with the international community to contribute to Libya's lasting peace and stability, he said.

In his briefing to the Security Council on Tuesday, Ghassan Salame, the UN secretary-general's special representative for Libya, said the country is on the verge of civil war.

"Libya is on the verge of descending into a civil war, which could lead to the permanent division of the country. The damage already done will take years to mend, and that's only if the war is ended now," Salame said.

"Forty-eight days into the attack on Tripoli by General Haftar's forces, there has already been too much death and destruction," he added, referring to the new offensive on the Libyan capital launched on April 4 by the self-proclaimed Libyan National Army led by Haftar.

The Security Council failed last month to agree on a draft resolution demanding a cease-fire in Libya and a return to political talks to end the conflict, Associated Press reported.

Agencies and Xinhua

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