May 9, 2019 / 2:05 PM / 14 days ago

UPDATE 1-Tripoli government suspends operations of 40 firms including Total

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TRIPOLI, May 9 (Reuters) - Libya’s internationally recognized government has suspended the operations of 40 foreign firms including French oil firm Total, a government official said on Thursday.

The ministry said that the firms’ licences had expired, according to a decree that appeared online, and whose authenticity was confirmed by an official in the ministry.

Total is a major oil player in Libya, which pumps more than 1 million barrels of oil a day.

Ties between Tripoli, home to the internationally recognized government, and France have been strained because Paris has ties to Tripoli as well as Khalifa Haftar, a commander whose troops have been trying to take the capital in a month-long battle.

Last month, the Tripoli-based interior ministry suspended security cooperation with France, accusing Paris of backing Haftar.

On Wednesday, Tripoli Premier Fayez al-Serraj had visited Paris, part of a tour to European capitals to drum up support.

After meeting Serraj, President Emmanuel Macron had called for a ceasefire in the battle for Libya’s capital Tripoli.

Haftar, a former general in Gaddafi’s army who later turned against him, enjoys the backing of the United Arab Emirates and Egypt. He also received military support from France which helped him take over the eastern city of Benghazi in 2017. (Reporting by Ahmed Elumami and Ulf Laessing Editing by Alexandra Hudson)

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