Pompeo says U.S. wants to work with Russia on Libya, reminds Lavrov on arms embargo

WASHINGTON – The United States wants to work with Russia to end the conflict in Libya, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday, but he added that he reminded Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov a day ago of the arms embargo that is in place on the North African country.

“We want to work with the Russians, to get to the negotiating table, have a series of conversations that ultimately lead to a disposition that creates what the United Nations has been trying to do,” Pompeo said at a news conference.

Libya has been divided since 2014 into rival military and political camps based in the capital Tripoli and the east. Fayez al-Serraj’s government is in conflict with forces led by Khalifa Haftar based in eastern Libya.

Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) has been trying since April to take Tripoli. He is backed by Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and most recently Russian mercenaries, according to diplomats and Tripoli officials. The LNA denies it has foreign backing.

Washington last month called on the LNA to end its offensive on Tripoli. Pompeo on Wednesday said the United States has called Moscow and other parties to cease sending weapons.

“I reminded him (Lavrov) that there’s a weapons embargo that’s still in place in Libya and that no nation had to be providing incremental material inside Libya,” he said.


The U.S. military believes that an unarmed American drone reported lost near Libya’s capital last month was in fact shot down by Russian air defenses and it is demanding the return of the aircraft’s wreckage, U.S. Africa Command said last week.


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