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The Latest: EU urges calm amid Libya military build-up

The Latest on developments in Libya (all times local):

2:10 p.m.

The European Union is calling for calm in Libya and warns the situation could spiral out of control as militia forces are vowing to respond to any attempt by a rival army commander to seize the capital, Tripoli.

EU commission spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said on Friday that “we are deeply concerned by the military build-up that is underway in Libya and the escalatory rhetoric which seriously risks leading to an uncontrollable confrontation.”

Kocijancic says that the EU calls “on all parties to immediately de-escalate the situation and cease all acts of provocation.”

EU foreign ministers will discuss development in Libya at a meeting in Luxembourg on Monday. Kocjancic underlined the EU’s support for the U.N. envoy to Libya and said that an upcoming national conference in the conflict-ravaged country is a “historic opportunity” to move forward and must be seized.

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2:05 p.m.

The Kremlin says that Russia isn’t supporting Libyan army commander Khalifa Hifter who has ordered his forces to march on the country’s capital, Tripoli.

President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov emphasized on Friday the need “to avoid actions that would lead to the resumption of bloodshed.”

He told reporters that “it’s necessary to take every possible effort to achieve a full settlement through peaceful diplomatic means” in Libya.

Asked if Russia was supporting Hifter, Peskov said: “No, Moscow isn’t involved in that in any way.”

Hifter on Thursday ordered his forces to march on Tripoli, the seat of Libya’s U.N.-backed government, sparking fears of a major showdown with rival militias.

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2 p.m.

Italy’s interior minister, Matteo Salvini, says an escalation in Libya puts at risk the stability along the southern rim of the Mediterranean Sea.

Salvini told reporters on the sidelines of a G-7 meeting in France on Friday that he’s “very worried about Libya” and added that “the balance of the entire Mediterranean is at stake.”

He says no country should interfere for its own “economic and commercial interests” — comments likely were aimed at whoever is backing the commander of the self-styled Libyan National Army, Khalifa Hiftar, who ordered his forces on Thursday to take over the capital, Tripoli.

Salvini said he told his G-7 allies: “We need to throw water on the fire and not gasoline.”

The Italian also said he had a bilateral with the American delegation, which said that they were trusting in Italy for stability of the area.

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10:20 a.m.

Libyan militias in the country’s west are vowing to confront a rival army commander’s attempt to seize the capital, Tripoli, raising the prospect of renewed civil war.

The advancing forces of Khalifa Hifter, who runs the self-styled Libya National Army based in the country’s east, have sparked fears of a major showdown with the militias that control Tripoli.

The militias from the western cities of Zawiya and Misarata posted on social media early on Friday that they’re mobilizing to confront Hifter, hours after he ordered his fighters to march on Tripoli.

They posted: “We are the revolutionaries and the elders … we declare we are on full mobilization and war.”

Since the 2011 uprising that ousted and killed Moammar Gadhafi, Libya has slid into chaos and frequent spasms of violence.


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