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Washington in talks over removal of foreign fighters from Libya - U.S. envoy

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By Reuters
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WASHINGTON – The United States is in talks with some of the key actors in Libya over the withdrawal of foreign forces ahead of elections planned for December, Washington’s top Libya envoy said on Monday.

Special Envoy for Libya Richard Norland told reporters that part of the importance of Libya’s elections was so a fully empowered, credible and legitimate government could push foreign actors to pull out their troops.

“That will be a very important development and … very impactful, but we’re not suggesting that we have to wait until next year to try to make some progress,” Norland said ahead of U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s travel to the Second Berlin Conference on Libya this week.

“There are negotiations underway with some of the key actors aimed at trying to remove some of the mercenaries, the foreign fighters,” Norland added.

Libya has suffered a decade of chaos and violence since a 2011 NATO-backed uprising ousted the then head of state Muammar Gaddafi, but its two main warring sides this year consented to a new government.

But while the installation of a unified administration and a push for national elections in December are seen as the best hope in years for a lasting political solution, the process is still fraught with challenges.

Most territory is still controlled by local armed groups, major outside powers have not pulled foreign fighters from the front lines, and key figures disagree on the management of Libya’s economic resources.