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Libya's Khalifa Haftar to attend Moscow talks

Russia reportedly supports Haftar and arms him with military equipment
Khaliha Haftar leads the Libyan National Army in east Libya (AFP)

Libyan military commander Khalifa Haftar will visit Moscow on Saturday for discussions of a peace plan, including a ceasefire and political talks, a Russian official said on Friday.

Haftar will discuss "the issue of his eventual meeting with the prime minister" of Libya's recognised government, Fayez al-Sarraj, said Lev Dengov, who heads Russia's Libya contact group.

"Relevant questions on reconciling the parties and the conflict will be raised," Dengov was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency.

Haftar leads the Libyan National Army (LNA) in the east of the country and is a close ally of the Tobruk-based House of Representatives parliament, a rival to the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) which has all but lost control of the Libyan capital despite international support.

Haftar's self-styled LNA is backed by Russia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.

There have been previous reports of Russian support for Haftar. A Middle East Eye report in January revealed the Kremlin’s willingness to arm Haftar with armoured vehicles, ammunition and sophisticated listening and surveillance devices.

EXCLUSIVE: Russia's secret plan to back Haftar in Libya
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Oil-rich Libya has been in turmoil since the removal of longtime leader Moammar Gaddafi in 2011, which turned the country into a hub for human trafficking and drew jihadist groups from across the region.

The United Nations has been struggling for months to re-launch talks on a deal reached in 2015 on setting up a national unity government that has been rejected by Haftar and other factions.

Appointed last year to lead the new government of national accord, Sarraj has failed to assert authority outside of Tripoli, while Haftar's forces this month scored a major military victory when they seized Benghazi, Libya's second city.

The pair reached agreement on a new peace initiative during talks hosted last month by French President Emmanuel Macron.

In the 10-point joint declaration, Sarraj and Haftar agreed to work on a roadmap for security and defence, unifying national institutions such as the National Oil Corporation and the central bank, and hold elections as soon as possible.

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