MOSCOW/TUNIS Russia said on Friday it was ready to help unify Libya and wanted to foster dialogue between rival authorities in Tripoli and factions in the east of the country.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov held talks in Moscow with Fayez Seraj, the head of the U.N.-backed government in Tripoli, on Thursday.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Friday that the talks had focused on how efforts to unite Libya could best be advanced. Moscow was ready to mediate and wanted to cooperate with all sides in the oil-rich country, it said.
"Moscow confirmed its readiness to work closely with all sides in Libya with the aim of seeking mutually acceptable solutions to create the grounds for the stable development of Libya as a united, sovereign and independent state," the ministry said in a statement.
Seraj's visit was seen as part of efforts to overcome a deadlock in the country between the Tripoli government and Khalifa Haftar, a military commander supported by factions in the east of the country.
A statement from Seraj's office quoted him as saying that Russia could play a positive role in Libya "thanks to its ties with various Libyan parties."
On Feb. 19, Seraj told Reuters he hoped Moscow might act as an intermediary between him and Haftar.
"The passage of time does not allow for the political manoeuvres that (some) Libyan groups are trying to play," Seraj's office said.
It said the Libyan political delegation had been accompanied by officials representing the National Oil Corporation and the defence ministry.
Lavrov and Seraj had discussed the progress of the U.N.-sponsored reconciliation dialogue, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
"The Russian side stressed the need for an inclusive intra-Libyan dialogue aimed at setting up unified organs of power, including an army and police force capable of maintaining security and law and order and of effectively countering a terrorist threat," it said.
(Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic in Moscow and Aidan Lewis in Tunis; Editing by Andrew Osborn)