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Libyan Strongman Haftar Meets Lavrov, Shoigu In Moscow

Khalifa Haftar (left), the chief of the Libyan National Army, meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow on August 14.

Powerful Libyan military commander Khalifa Haftar has met with Russia's foreign and defense ministers in Moscow.

Russia backs the efforts by Haftar and the prime minister of Libya's UN-recognized government, Fayez al-Sarraj, to reach a peace agreement, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told the Libyan strongman in remarks released by the Foreign Ministry after the two men met on August 14.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu also met Haftar in Moscow and talks "devoted particular attention to the development of the situation in North Africa, with the stress on the situation in Libya," according to Russia’s Defense Ministry.

Haftar's visit comes after he and Sarraj agreed last month on a 10-point joint declaration on a new peace initiative.

Oil-rich Libya has been in turmoil since the ouster of longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011, with regional powers siding with opposing camps that have vied for power.

Sarraj's government of national accord sits in the capital, Tripoli, and a rival government aligned with Haftar is based in the eastern city of Bayda.

Haftar, the leader of the self-proclaimed Libyan National Army, visited Moscow twice last year and was hosted on a Russian aircraft carrier off the coast of Libya in January, fueling speculation that Moscow is attempting to expand its influence in the North African country.

Based on reporting by Interfax, TASS, and AFP