PARIS (Reuters) - France’s foreign ministry said on Friday security conditions were still not right to reopen its embassy in Libya despite a claim by the prime minister of a U.N.-backed government there that Paris wanted to restore its diplomatic mission soon.
France closed its embassy in Tripoli in 2014 amid growing instability in the North African country, but Fayez al-Seraj, the head of the Government of National Accord (GNA), said in a statement on May 30 that new President Emmanuel Macron had promised him to reopen the embassy “as early as possible.”
“Our embassy for Libya is currently located in Tunis. We would like that it reopens in Tripoli as soon as security conditions are right” Foreign ministry spokesman Romain Nadal told a daily news briefing, adding that the current French envoy was making regular trips to Libya.
Macron’s office issued a release on Thursday two days after the talks with Seraj saying that Paris continued to support his government and wanted a stable and united Libya on the basis of a political agreement between rival factions.
It made no mention of the embassy.
Italy reopened its embassy in Tripoli earlier this year making it the first Western diplomatic mission to return to the divided country.
France took a leading role in the NATO air campaign that helped rebels topple Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, but his demise tipped the country into years of chaos.
Diplomats have said Paris is reviewing its policy on Libya since Macron’s election victory.
New Foreign Minister Jean-Yves le Drian will travel to Egypt next week to discuss the crisis in neighbouring Libya.
In the previous government, the Foreign Ministry openly supported Seraj’s government, while the Defence Ministry worked closely with eastern militia commander Khalifa Haftar, who has waged a campaign against Islamists in eastern Libya but resisted a rapprochement with Seraj.
Reporting by John Irish; Editing by Andrew Callus