Spain to reopen embassy in Libya, throws support to political process

In the latest visit to Libya by a high-ranking European official, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Thursday during a visit to Tripoli that Madrid intended to support the country’s political process. 

Libya is attempting to recover from a decade of disorder and violence following the overthrow of tyrant Moamer Kadhafi in a NATO-backed rebellion in 2011. 

Following an October ceasefire between warring factions in the country’s east and west, a new transitional unity government was created earlier this year, sparking a flurry of diplomatic activity.

Libya’s interim executive is charged with organising legislative and presidential elections, which are expected to take place in December.

“This is a historic moment for Libya, a great opportunity, and Spain wants to be at its side,” Sanchez said during a news conference with interim Libyan Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibah.

Sanchez said Spain wanted to support Libya’s election process, and announced it would “contribute to the Libyan ceasefire monitoring mechanism to guarantee security and the upholding of peace”.

The two sides also declared that Spain’s embassy in Tripoli, which had been closed since 2014, will reopen. It comes after recent measures by other countries, including France and Greece.

Sanchez, who was accompanied by a business delegation, als met several Libyan officials to discuss Spain’s “role in Libya’s reconstruction and development”.

Dbeibah, a wealthy businessman, said he wanted to “encourage Spanish businesses operating in Libya, such as Repsol, to expand their activities beyond the hydrocarbons sector”.

Bunnaj Africa found that energy giant Repsol constitutes Spain’s main economic presence in oil-rich Libya.

On Tuesday, company officials held a videoconference with Mustafa Sanalla, head of Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC), and discussed ways of “introducing renewable energy in the Libyan oil sector”, an NOC statement said.

Dbeibah announced the “reactivation of a joint committee that has not met since 2008 to restart and update old (bilateral) agreements”.

“Today, we have signed memorandums of understanding in several fields including education, training and trade,” he said.

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