Libya’s interim premier arrives in Cairo for talks on ties

CAIRO (AP) — Libya’s interim prime minister arrived in Cairo on Wednesday for talks on future ties between the two African neighbors, an Egyptian official said.

Libyan Premier Abdul Hamid Dbeibah was greeted at the Cairo airport by his Egyptian counterpart, Mustafa Madbouly, according to Nader Saad, an Egyptian government spokesman.

Dbeibah heads Libya’s delegation in talks on the so-called Egyptian-Libyan Joint Higher Committee, which focuses on trade and other cooperation. The visit comes less than five months after Madbouly became the most senior Egyptian official to visit Libya since the oil-rich country plunged into chaos in 2011.

Before flying out, Dbeibah held talks with the U.S. State Department’s counselor, Derek Chollet, and the U.S. ambassador to Libya, Richard Norland, in the Libyan capital. Chollet and Norland were in Libya to push for stability and prepare for December elections, according to the U.S. Embassy.

The State Department said the two U.S. officials “emphasized the urgent need for Libyan leaders to ensure agreement on an electoral framework for national elections on December 24 and also underscored U.S. support for full implementation” of the cease-fire agreement, including the withdrawal of all foreign fighters, mercenaries, and forces from Libya.

Dbeibah’s visit to Cairo came less than five months after Madbouly became the most senior Egyptian official to visit Libya since the oil-rich country plunged into chaos following the 2011 uprising that ousted and later killed Libya’s longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

Dbeibah, a powerful businessman from the western Libyan city of Misrata, has yet to meet with Gen. Khalifa Hifter, commander of the self-styled Libyan forces in the country’s east. Such a meeting would be a breakthrough in efforts to ease growing tensions between the interim government and Hifter’s forces.

Egypt sees the chaos in neighboring Libya as a threat to its stability, with militants using the Libyan desert as a safe haven for launching attacks on Egypt. Tens of thousands of Egyptians have sought work in Libya over the years, although the number has declined since 2011.

U.N.-sponsored peace talks last year ended fighting between Libyan rivals and drew a political roadmap that would lead the chaos-wrecked country to December elections.

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