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Germany presses Russia to release UN report on Libya arms

A photo released in July 2020 by the US military purports to show an improvised explosive device brought to the Libyan capital Tripoli by the Wagner Group, a Russian-backed private military contractor
A photo released in July 2020 by the US military purports to show an improvised explosive device brought to the Libyan capital Tripoli by the Wagner Group, a Russian-backed private military contractor Handout AFRICOM/AFP/File
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United Nations (United States) (AFP)

Germany on Friday pressed Russia and China in vain to allow the release of an interim UN report on violations of the arms embargo on Libya that faulted Moscow-linked fighters.

Germany called a closed-door Security Council meeting to seek the publication of the report, saying it wanted to shine a light on the flood of arms that have gone into Libya.

"We need to name and blame and shame those who blatantly violate the arms embargo," Guenter Sautter, Germany's deputy ambassador to the United Nations, told reporters.

Germany has called a high-level meeting on October 5 at the United Nations to take up Libya, where a fragile ceasefire has raised hopes of ending nearly a decade of bloodshed.

But diplomats said that Friday's meeting failed to secure the release of the interim report, which unlike final findings are not generally made public.

Russia and China renewed their opposition to releasing it, with Moscow attacking the experts behind it, a diplomat said on condition of anonymity.

The two powers stayed firm, "blocking the publication of the interim report without having been able to name any compelling argument for this position," another diplomat said.

The document, seen by AFP, found numerous violations by the Wagner Group, a Russian military contractor reputed to be close to the Kremlin.

It pointed to rising arms shipments at the time both to strongman Khalifa Haftar -- who is backed by Russia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates -- and the UN-recognized government that has support from Turkey.

"The arms embargo remains totally ineffective. In the cases of those member-states directly supporting the parties to the conflict the violations are extensive, blatant and with complete disregard for the sanctions measures," it said.

- Stalemate on new envoy -

Germany also hoped Friday to secure agreement on a UN envoy for Libya to replace Ghassan Salame, who stepped down in March citing health reasons.

But African nations objected to the nomination of Nickolay Mladenov, a Bulgarian who is currently the UN envoy for the Middle East.

"We are against nobody. We want an African," an African diplomat said.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres earlier named former Ghanaian minister Hanna Serwaa Tetteh for the role but the United States objected, saying that the position should be split in two between a political envoy and a boss for the UN mission.

The UN-backed government and Haftar-linked parliament in eastern Libya last month reached a ceasefire and are looking to hold elections next year.

Libya has been in turmoil since 2011 when a Western-backed uprising toppled dictator Moamer Kadhafi.

The arms embargo report points to violations by the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Egypt, Syria, Russia, Qatar and Turkey.

Asked about the report by AFP in a discussion with several journalists, the foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates, Anwar Gargash, rejected the accusations and said his country would not comment on a report it had not read.

"We categorically deny these. Our position is very clear, especially since the Berlin conference (in January), of the necessity of a ceasefire," he said.

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