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PARIS, July 18 (Reuters) – French, German and Italian leaders on Saturday threatened for the first time using sanctions against countries that continue to violate the UN arms embargo on Libya.
French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte urged “all foreign actors to end their increasing interference and to fully respect the arms embargo formed by the UN Security Council” in a joint statement issued by the French presidency after meet in Brussels.
“We are ready to consider the possibility of using sanctions if violations of embargoes at sea, on land or in the air continue, and look forward to proposals that the EU High Representative for foreign affairs and security policy will make in this regard,” they said
Turkey has intervened decisively in recent weeks in Libya, providing air support, weapons and allied fighters from Syria to help the internationally recognized government based in Tripoli repel a year-long offensive by eastern commander forces Khalifa HList.
The list is supported by the UAE, Egypt and Russia, who are also accused by the United Nations of violating the embargo.
The Tripoli-based government on Saturday moved fighters closer to Sirte, the gateway to Libya’s main oil terminal, which according to the government plans to reclaim HList troops.
France itself faces criticism for its ambiguity with regard to HList, having previously supported it in the war against Islamic militants.
Saturday’s joint statement was the first time the three major powers threatened sanctions amid fears of renewed escalation on the ground.
“We share serious concerns about the increasing military tension in the country and the increased risk of regional escalation,” they said. “We therefore call on all Libyan parties and their foreign supporters to immediately stop fighting and end the ongoing military escalation across the country.”
Diplomats said European Union countries could also consider imposing sanctions on individuals from both Libyan parties. (Reporting by John Irish; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Hugh Lawson)