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On Libya, US Issues Statement With Algeria, Egypt, Morocco & Tunisia

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 6 -- After diplomats from the US, UK and other countries have left Libya, on August 6 alongside the Africa Summit in Washington, the US State Department issued this joint statement:

Joint Statement on Libya by the Governments of Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, and the United States

Representatives of the governments of Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, and the United States met today to express their deep concern about the political and security challenges facing Libya and the impact of these challenges across North Africa and the Sahel region. We call upon all parties in Libya to adopt an immediate ceasefire and to undertake negotiations to address the countryís security and stability needs.
The ongoing violence between Libyans is creating a tragic humanitarian crisis that affects the lives of the most vulnerable and threatens Libyaís democratic transition.  We call upon all Libyans to reject terrorism and violence and to replace it with political dialogue to end the instability that is spreading across the country.  We call on Libyaís newly elected Council of Representatives and other democratic institutions to adopt inclusive policies that benefit all Libyans and to build a government that meets the Libyan peopleís needs for security, reconciliation, and prosperity.

We commend the determination of the Libyan people to ensure that democratic governance and rule of law form the bedrock of their countryís future.  The international community stands firmly behind the Libyan people, supports the democratically-elected institutions of Libya, and rejects outside interference in Libyaís transition.  We support all partiesí engagement to this objective, including the continued activities of the Tunis process on Libya.

 Back on August 4 when UK Ambassador to the UN Mark Lyall Grant took questions on the program of work for his month as Security Council president, Inner City Press asked him about Libya, including the relation between UK envoy Jonathan Powell and UN envoy Tarek Mitri, and about the UN missions in Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Video here.

  Libya is on the month's schedule, but only on August 27. With the US and now UK having out their diplomats and citizens, will the topic be moved up? Lyall Grant said that Libyan Prime Minister al-Thinni had been trying to reach him, perhaps about just that.

  (In Washington al-Thinni was thanking US President Barack Obama for his help with the Libyan oil tanker; in his remarks the UN was not mentioned.)

  Inner City Press asked about allegations by rights defender Mbonimpa and others in Burundi that the ruling party has been training its youth wing in camps in the DRC, specifically in Kaliba Ondes.

  Lyall Grant said that the BNUB mission is the topic and that can be asked about then. Inner City Press will, and also on August 7 when MONUSCO is discussed, with outgoing UN Great Lakes envoy Mary Robinson and the UK's Mark Simmonds.

  Inner City Press had asked by Twitter about Gaza, why no action. Lyall Grant said that the Arab Group would be meeting on August 4, to ask them if they want Council action. Why wouldn't they?

Last week Inner City Press reported on - and put online - North Korea's letter requesting a UN Security Council meeting about the US - South Korean joint military exercises. Lyall Grant said that no Council member had requested such a meeting.

  On Ukraine, Lyall Grant said that the Netherlands on August 1 -- the first day of his presidency of the Council - had submitted a letter about its memorandum of understanding with Kyiv to access the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17. Inner City Press has requested a copy of the letter. Watch this site.

Footnote: Inner City Press on behalf of the Free UN Coalition for Access thanked Lyall Grant for the briefing and offered hopes that he will do question and answer stakeouts after each closed consultations. He came close to that during his last presidency - but since then the standard has been raised, for example by Luxembourg and Nigeria. Here's hoping.

On August 4 the UK opened an exhibition about World War 1 poetry in the UN lobby (Inner City Press photos here and here) and there will be an abridged presentation of Shakespeare's Hamlet in the ECOSOC chamber later on August 4.

Update: In the pre-play press conference, Inner City Press asked if they would go to Palestine, or Western Sahara. The former, perhaps; the latter, not answered. But they have been to Kosovo.

  The Council will go on a trip, but Lyall Grant asked the media not to report to where, or when. Now we can name one of the stops: South Sudan. We'll have more on this.

From the UK Mission's transcript:

Q: Matthew Lee, Inner City Press. On behalf of the Free UN Coalition for Access, thanks for the briefing and hereís hoping for stakeouts after closed consultations and Q and A. You did it before I'm sure. Letís do it again. I wanted to ask you about Libya. Seems like, there has been a lot of deterioration of the security there and I know that the UK, as  other countries have, have pulled out. So I wanted to know, itís on the agenda but sort of at the end of the month. Is there any thought of moving it up or having something. I wanted to know also what, itís unclear sort of what the Mission is doing now that a lot of its staff has left. Mr. Mitry and I know there is the UK envoy Jonathan Powell. What is the relationship between these various envoys and the UNís Mission. And just very quickly on Burundi I wanted to ask. There is this issue that has come up where human rights defenders in Burundi have alleged that the ruling party is training its youth wing across the border in the DRC. So it seems like you have MONUSCO on the agenda and you have BINUB. What is the intermission cooperation on something like this where people in one country are alleging something across the border? Do you think that MONUSCO should go and check it out? It doesnít seem that they have done so today. Is that the kind of thing as President with both items on your agenda.  What do you think of it?

Amb Lyall Grant: On Libya. We do as I say have an event that we particularly scheduled for the 27th of August. But I understand that the Libyan Prime Minister who is in Washington for the US Africa Summit is trying to get a hold of me, so itís possible that he will want to initiate something in the Security Council. I am only speculating there but nothing is scheduled at the moment in advance of that. That does not mean there is not any activity going on and in my national capacity I can say that, as you mentioned, Jonathan Powell is very active, his US opposite number is very active. They are coordinating with Mr. Mitry who is still in the job. And a number of other international envoys trying to bring about a ceasefire which would allow a national dialogue to take place similar to the sort of national dialogues we have seen in places such as Tunisia and Yemen. So they are being extremely active, they are planning further visits in the course of this month to Libya but of course if the Security Council can play a role  well we as the presidency of the Security Council will facilitate that. On Burundi, we have a Burundi briefing Wednesday afternoon, so I guess that will be the time to take up that issue.


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