Berlin conference on Libya begins today; no talks on natural gas, German FM says

Berlin conference on Libya begins today; no talks on natural gas, German FM says

The Berlin conference on Libya is scheduled to begin at 15.10 on Sunday (all, Athens time), towards finding a solution to the Middle Eastern country's crisis that affects the entire region.

An official announcement by the German government, hosting the conference, said that earlier in the day Chancellor Angela Merkel would welcome President of the Republic of Congo Denis Sassou-Nguesso, chair of the African Union's High-Level Committee on Libya.

Merkel would also have a bilateral meeting with President of the French Republic Emmanuel Macron before welcoming all participants to the conference, which is scheduled to begin at 15.10 with a family photograph. The conference will conclude with a press conference that will also include UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, among others.

Participants are believed to include the presidents of Russia, Turkey, Egypt, US State Department Secretary Mike Pompeo, and high-level officials from Great Britain, China, the UAE, Italy, Algeria, the UN, the EU, the African Union and the Arab League.

Both Libyan Prime Minister Fayez Al Saraj and Commander Khalifa Haftar are expected to attend. According to a report by Der Spiegel, they are expected to participate only after all other participants have agreed to a joint statements. Their presence in Berlin, the magazine said, was at Russia's insistence.

According to a draft statement, the Berlin conference on Libya will call for a ceasefire by all sides against petroleum facilities, and recognize the Tripoli-based state oil company NOC as the only legal entity allowed to sell Libyan oil.

Greece had formally requested an invitation to attend the conference since the signing by Turkey and the Tripoli government of two internationally criticized memoranda on maritime zones, but the Greek Foreign Affairs Ministry said Germany had turned the request down.

Asked to comment on Greece's absence and whether it came after Turkish pressure by Bild am Sontag newspaper, German Minister of Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas said that the European Union is tied to the process, and expressed the confidence that as all EU member states are interested in peace in Libya, they are expected to also support the conference.

Referring to the Turkey-Libya memoranda, he also told the newspaper "the natural gas deposit will play no role in our conference," which is devoted to finding a solution for Libya, and called on everyone to "forget thinking about their interests in the natural gas deposit as long as the civil war is going on."

Source: ana-mpa