By Associated Press - Monday, July 13, 2020

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) - The United Arab Emirates wants Libya to “return to oil production” as soon as possible, a top Emirati official said Monday, after officials with Libya’s U.N.-supported government in Tripoli accused the UAE of ordering rival Libyan forces to block oil sales.

Anwar Gargash, the Emirates’ minister of state for foreign affairs, and government officials did not respond to questions about the accusations made by Libya’s National Oil Corp.

The corporation had accused the Emiratis of ordering powerful tribes in eastern Libya loyal to commander Khalifa Hifter to close export terminals and choke off major pipelines. Exports have been halted since the start of the year.

In a tweet, Gargash acknowledged the shutdown of Libyan oil exports.

“The UAE, alongside its partners, wants to see a return to oil production in Libya as soon as possible, with safeguards in place to prevent the proceeds fueling further conflict,” Gargash wrote. “We continue to work for an immediate cease-fire and return to a political process.”

Ahmed al-Mosmari, a spokesman for Hifter’s forces, had earlier called for oil revenues to flow into a bank account in a foreign country with a “clear mechanism” to distribute funds fairly among Libya’s regions. He did not name a country to host the account.

He also demanded international guarantees that oil revenues would not to be used to fund “terrorists and mercenaries” - an apparent reference to the mercenaries, mostly Syrians, that Turkey brought in recent months to fight on the side of the Tripoli government, which is backed by an array of local militias as well as Turkey, Qatar and Italy.

Hifter’s forces are also backed by a patchwork of armed groups as well as foreign patrons, including the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Russia and France.

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