German FM arrives in Libya to reopen country's embassy

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas speaks during a meeting with Secretary of State Antony Blinken at Ramstein Air Base in south-western Germany, Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021. (Olivier Douliery/Pool via AP) (Olivier Douliery, AFP or licensors)

BERLIN – Germany's foreign minister arrived in Libya on Thursday to reopen the country's embassy in Tripoli.

“Today, we want to show with the reopening that Germany is and will remain a committed partner of Libya,” Heiko Maas said upon his arrival in Tripoli. “We want to have a voice in the Libyan capital again.”

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German diplomats left Libya in 2014 due to the country's instability and spiraling violence and worked from neighboring Tunisia.

In 2011, a NATO-backed uprising toppled and later killed longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi and led to the collapse of order in the North African country. The oil-rich country was long divided between a U.N.-supported government in the capital, Tripoli, and rival authorities based in the country’s east, each backed by armed groups and foreign governments.

In April 2019, eastern-based commander Khalifa Hifter and his forces, backed by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, launched an offensive to try to capture Tripoli. Hifter’s 14-month campaign collapsed after Turkey stepped up its military support of the U.N.-backed government with hundreds of troops and thousands of Syrian mercenaries.

In October, a cease-fire agreement including a demand that all foreign fighters and mercenaries leave Libya within 90 days led to a deal on the elections in December and the transitional government that took office in February.

Germany has tried to act as an intermediary between warring parties in Libya in the past.

In June, Germany and the United Nations hosted a Libya conference in Berlin on the future of the crisis-ridden country. At the conference, Germany vowed to keep up pressure until all foreign forces have been withdrawn from Libya.

On Thursday, Maas praised the country's efforts to reach more stability over the past two years.

“Today there's a national unity government, the oil blockade has been ended, and the weapons have mostly been silenced," Maas said, according to a statement from the German Foreign Ministry.

He added that “Libya needs continued international engagement to achieve progress for all people in Libya.”

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