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Trump and Haftar discussed 'counterterrorism efforts' in Libya

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This grab obtained from a video shows Libyan National Army fighters riding atop an armoured vehicle waving gestures and chanting slogans while driving reportedly in a southern suburb of the capital Tripoli. (AFP)
The White House said on Friday that President Donald Trump spoke by phone on Monday to Libyan military commander Khalifa Haftar and discussed "ongoing counterterrorism efforts and the need to achieve peace and stability in Libya."

The statement said Trump "recognized Field Marshal Haftar’s significant role in fighting terrorism and securing Libya’s oil resources, and the two discussed a shared vision for Libya’s transition to a stable, democratic political system."

It was unclear why the White House waited several days to announce the phone call.

On Thursday, both the United States and Russia said they could not support a UN Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire in Libya at this time. Also on Thursday, mortar bombs crashed down on a suburb of Tripoli, almost hitting a clinic, after two weeks of an offensive by Haftar's eastern troops on the Libyan capital, which is held by the UN-backed government.

The British-drafted resolution blames Haftar for the latest flare-up in violence when his Libyan National Army (LNA) advanced to the outskirts of Tripoli earlier this month. Many countries in the region see Haftar as a bulwark against extremist groups.  

The United States did not give a reason for its decision not to support the draft resolution, which would also call on countries with influence over the warring parties to ensure compliance and for unconditional humanitarian aid access in Libya. The country has been gripped by anarchy since Muammar Gaddafi was toppled in 2011.

White House national security adviser John Bolton also spoke recently to Haftar.
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