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France reopens Libya embassy after 7-year closure

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A picture taken on March 29, 2021 shows the damaged old French embassy building in the Libyan capital Tripoli, ahead of the reopening of the dipolomatic mission at a new location. – The embassy was severely damaged in a car bomb blast which also wounded two French guards in 2013. (Photo by Mahmud TURKIA / AFP)

France on Monday reopened its embassy in Libya after a seven-year closure as insecurity swept the country following its 2011 revolution, in another sign of a gradual return of stability.

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Its representative resumed operations behind a tall compound wall in a new building on the outskirts of Tripoli.

French President Emmanuel Macron announced the reopening last week after talks in Paris with the head of Libya’s newly installed presidential council, Mohamed al-Manfi.

Libya descended into chaos after dictator Moamer Kadhafi was toppled and killed in a NATO-backed uprising a decade ago, leaving multiple forces vying for power.

Most diplomats and other foreigners left the North African country after repeated attacks and kidnappings, notably an Islamist assault on the US consulate in the eastern city of Benghazi in September 2012 that killed ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

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The French embassy was targeted in an April 2013 car bombing that wounded two gendarmes, after which it was moved to a hotel before relocating in July 2014 to Tunis, like most other foreign missions.

Fighting only came to a halt last summer, and a formal ceasefire in October was followed by the establishment of a new Government of National Unity (GNU).

Italy already returned its embassy to Tripoli in 2017, while several other countries, such as Egypt, Greece and Malta, are to follow France’s lead.

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