Tripoli 'premier' discusses Libya situation with Russia FM

The head of the unrecognised Islamist regime in Tripoli, Khalifa Al-Ghweil (pictured C in June 2015), met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on December 23 in Moscow for talks on the countries' relationship (AFP Photo/Mahmud Turkia) (AFP/File)

Tripoli (AFP) - The head of the unrecognised Libyan government in Tripoli has met with Russia's foreign minister to discuss the political and military situation in the country, officials from the two sides said Wednesday.

Khalifa Ghweil's talks with Sergei Lavrov in Moscow Tuesday came as the United Nations presses rival camps in Libya to accept a new premier named under a UN-sponsored agreement signed last week.

Ghweil raised with Lavrov the "current situation in Libya and subjects of concern to both countries in various economic and commercial areas," said a statement issued by the Tripoli administration.

In Moscow, a foreign ministry statement said "the current military and political situation in Libya as well as prospects for the development of multi-faceted Russian-Libyan contacts were discussed at the meeting".

It added that Lavrov had expressed gratitude to Libya for the help in securing the release of Russians who were part of the crew of an oil tanker detained in Libya on September 16.

It said Russia's top diplomat had "stressed it was important to let the three sailors, who still remain in Libya, return home as soon as possible".

The Russian-flagged Mekhanik Chebotarev was stopped by Libyan coast guards on suspicion of illegally transporting Libyan fuel.

Libya has had rival administrations since August 2014, when an Islamist-backed militia alliance overran Tripoli, forcing the government to take refuge in the east.

The country has been gripped by chaos and security problems since its 2011 uprising that toppled longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi, with a multitude of armed factions battling for territory and control of its oil wealth.

Rival Libyan politicians signed a deal Thursday to form a national unity government despite opposition on both sides.

It calls for a 17-member government, headed by businessman Fayez el-Sarraj and based in Tripoli. A presidential council would also serve for a transitional period of two years until legislative elections.

UN envoy Martin Kobler said Sunday his team is in contact with security officials in Tripoli to ensure that the new unity government can operate safely from the capital.