Haftar leaves Moscow without signing Libya peace deal

This combination of pictures shows Fayez Al-Sarraj, left, and General Khalifa Haftar. — AFP
This combination of pictures shows Fayez Al-Sarraj, left, and General Khalifa Haftar. — AFP

MOSCOW — Libyan National Army General Khalifa Haftar left Moscow on Tuesday without signing a cease-fire agreement aimed at ending nine months of fighting, AFP reported quoting Russian foreign ministry.

Russia's defense ministry, which attended Monday's talks, said Haftar had asked for two days to consider the deal and a shaky cease-fire established at the weekend would continue.

Haftar and his allies were in Moscow on Monday for talks with the Tripoli-based Government of National Alliance headed by Fayez Al-Sarraj.

"We will pursue our efforts in this direction. For now, a definitive result has not been achieved," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

Haftar had asked to postpone signing until Tuesday morning, Lavrov said.

Russia's military however said that Haftar "asked to take two days to discuss the document with tribes supporting the (Libyan National Army)," which he commands.

Russia's RIA Novosti news agency quoted a source in Haftar's stronghold Benghazi as saying he did not sign because the agreement had no timetable for disbanding groups allied with Sarraj's GNA.

Erdogan reacted angrily, saying "We will not hesitate to teach the putschist Haftar a deserved lesson ... if he continues his attacks on Libya's legitimate administration and our brothers in Libya".

Erdogan said the issue would be discussed at talks in Berlin on Sunday to be attended by European, North African and Middle Eastern countries as well as the the UN, the EU, the African Union and the Arab League.

"The putschist Haftar did not sign the cease-fire. He first said yes, but later unfortunately he left Moscow, he fled Moscow," Erdogan said, while praising "positive" talks.

Turkey and Russia's diplomatic initiative came despite the countries being seen as supporting opposing sides.

Ankara dispatched troops — in a training capacity, it said — to support the GNA in January in a move criticized by European powers and US President Donald Trump.

The GNA has signed agreements with Ankara assigning Turkey rights over a vast area of the gas-rich eastern Mediterranean, in a deal denounced by France, Greece, Egypt and Cyprus.

Russia has been accused of backing pro-Haftar forces. — AFP