French Foreign Minister visits Libya to press for implementation of peace accord

French Foreign Minister Jean-Louis Le Drean said on Thursday he would go to Libya “very soon” to press warring parties to support a road map initially agreed in Paris in July.

Libyan Prime Minister Faiz al-Sarraj and military commander in the east Khalifa Khalaf Hafer committed last month to a conditional ceasefire and to holding elections next spring.

“I will travel to Libya very soon to ensure follow-up after this meeting and to get the support of all parties for the declaration adopted at the time,” said Le Derrien in a speech to French ambassadors.

France, which played a prominent role in the NATO air campaign that helped opposition fighters topple Muammar Gaddafi, sought to play a larger role in Libya, believing diplomatic efforts had been frozen and could fill this vacuum under new President Emmanuel Macaron.

Officials fear jihadist groups may try to use the power vacuum in Libya to reorganize after losing vast territory in Syria and Iraq and see a solution to the conflict as necessary to end the crisis in Europe.

“France and others have a specific responsibility in Libya to help this country strengthen unity and stability,” said Le Derrion.

Previous attempts to conclude peace deals in the oil-producing country have failed because of internal differences between armed groups that emerged after Gaddafi’s ouster.

Diplomats refused to set a date for Le Dreane’s travel for security reasons.

The French initiative has angered officials in Italy, which has spearheaded efforts to bring peace to its former colony and has borne the brunt of successive waves of African migrants crossing the Mediterranean from Libya.