Libyan strongman Haftar says he is open to dialogue

Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar had repeatedly rejected UN calls for talks. PHOTO: AFP

TRIPOLI (AFP) - Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar, whose forces have been battling to capture the seat of the UN-recognised government in Tripoli since April, has said he is open to dialogue after repeatedly rejecting UN calls for talks.

"When all is said and done, we need dialogue and we need to sit down" at the negotiating table, Haftar said in a statement issued on Wednesday night (Sept 25) on the eve of a special session on Libya on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.

Haftar stressed, however, that dialogue was "not possible so long as terrorist groups and criminal militias control Tripoli", a reference to the myriad of militias that back the Government of National Accord.

Haftar welcomed the special session to be co-chaired by France and Italy in New York later on Thursday, saying that he hoped it would come up with "proposals that serve Libya's interests and at the same time restore security and stability".

Earlier this month, Haftar, whose forces control eastern Libya and most of the far-flung oases and oilfields of the desert south, rejected a UN call for renewed peace talks, saying that a military solution was the best way of bringing the conflict to an end.

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