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Trump Spoke to Libyan Strongman Threatening Tripoli

  • Call may undermine support for Prime Minister Fayez Al-Sarraj
  • Shanahan says ‘military solution is not what Libya needs’
Khalifa Haftar

Khalifa Haftar

Photographer: Filippo Monteforte/AFP via Getty Images

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President Donald Trump spoke on Monday with a Libyan strongman whose forces are advancing on the nation’s capital, the White House said, in a move that may undermine support for the country’s internationally recognized government.

The strongman, Khalifa Haftar, who enjoys the support of Russia, France and Arab countries and controls much of Libya’s east and south, launched a campaign to take the capital earlier this month. Libya’s prime minister, Fayez Al-Sarraj, who is backed by former colonial power Italy and other European countries, has said talks with Haftar cannot begin until his forces are withdrawn to pre-offensive lines.