BERLIN (AFP) -- World leaders gathered in Berlin on Sunday to make a fresh push for peace in Libya, in a desperate bid to stop the conflict-wracked nation from turning into a "second Syria”.
Chancellor Angela Merkel was e joined by the presidents of Russia, Turkey and France and other world leaders for talks held under the auspices of the United Nations.
The summit’s main goal was to get foreign powers wielding influence in the region to stop interfering in the war -- be it through weapons, troops or financing.
Leaders of both warring factions -- strongman Khalifa Haftar and the head of Tripoli’s UN-recognized government Fayez al-Sarraj -- were also expected at what is the first such gathering since 2018.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday said the summit could be "an important step on the way to cementing the ceasefire and a political solution” in Libya.
But pro-Haftar forces upped the ante ahead of the talks by blocking oil exports at Libya’s key ports, crippling the country’s main income source in protest at Turkey’s decision to send troops to shore up Sarraj’s Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA).
The move underlined the devastating impact of foreign influence in the crisis, in which Sarraj’s GNA is backed by Turkey and Qatar while Haftar has the support of Russia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.
"Libya needs all foreign interference to stop,” the United Nations’ special envoy Ghassan Salame told AFP.
The UN hoped all sides would sign up to a plan to refrain from interference, and commit to a truce that leads to a lasting end to hostilities, according to a draft of a final communique seen by AFP.
That document also urged all parties to re-commit to a much-violated UN arms embargo and raises the prospect of intra-Libyan political talks in Geneva at the end of the month.
But the summit has already ruffled feathers with several countries in the region fuming at being left out, including Greece, Morocco and Tunisia.
Libya has been torn by fighting between rival armed factions since a 2011 NATO-backed uprising killed dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
Most recently, Sarraj’s troops in Tripoli have been under attack since April from Haftar’s forces.
Clashes killed more than 280 civilians and 2,000 fighters and displaced tens of thousands, until a fragile ceasefire backed by both Ankara and Moscow was put in place on January 12.