NEW YORK (Reuters) - A group of 13 countries, the European Union and the United Nations on Monday called for an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire and political dialogue in Libya, rejecting any outside interference in the conflict-torn North African state.
The group that issued the communique on the sidelines of this week’s annual gathering of world leaders at the U.N. General Assembly included Algeria, Egypt, France, Germany, Italy, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Britain, the United States, the EU and United Nations.
“We call on all parties to accept an immediate, comprehensive ceasefire and engage constructively in a peaceful political dialogue to resolve the ongoing crisis, abstaining from confrontational acts that risk undermining it,” it said, adding “we reject any outside interference in Libya.”
The statement did not mention recent mysterious air strikes against Libyan Islamist militants that U.S. officials had suggested were staged by Egypt and the UAE, two countries that signed on to the communique.
The statement did back efforts by newly appointed U.N. Special Representative in Libya Bernardino Leon “to secure a negotiated settlement.”
A U.S. official, briefing reporters on the discussions, said: “Every country around that table recognized and reaffirmed the need for a political settlement.”
“There is no military solution to this conflict,” the communique said. “Those responsible for violence and those who obstruct and undermine Libya’s democratic transition must be held accountable.”
Asked whether there was any pushback from the Egyptians and UAE on wording in the communique about no foreign intervention, the U.S. official said: “There were a variety of opinions as they negotiated the communique and there were certainly areas of dispute.”
The U.S. official added that there would be a meeting in Algeria in the coming weeks to further discuss the situation in Libya. The official gave no details.
“We will have to begin to disarm the militias at some point but that would be part of the political settlement that Bernardino and the Algerians are working on,” the official said.
Reporting by Lesley Wroughton, writing by Louis Charbonneau; Editing by Tom Brown