Boris Johnson has met Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar as he urged military and political leaders to restore peace and stability in the country.
The Foreign Secretary said Britain wanted a “secure and stable” Libya as it would mean the country was better equipped to deal with the threat from terrorism and the challenge of migration.
Mr Johnson visited Benghazi on Thursday as part of British efforts to improve stability in Libya.
He met Field Marshal Haftar, the head of the Libyan National Army, as well as members of the House of Representatives representing the city.
“A secure and stable Libya, better able to deal with the threat from terrorism and the challenge of migration, is firmly in the UK interests,” Mr Johnson said.
“The Libyan people need a stable state that can meet their fundamental economic and security needs.
“That requires all sides to compromise and work together.
“Only a united Libya can defeat the terrorists and smuggling networks who are exploiting the instability.
“That’s why we are reaching out to all sides in Libya in support of the United Nations work to amend the Libyan political agreement so that it delivers for all Libyans.”
Libya has experienced years of unrest since the 2011 overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi.
On Wednesday, Mr Johnson announced more than £9m of UK funding to help stabilise Libya and tackle terrorism and people trafficking.
He also met with Prime Minister Fayez al Serraj, whose Government of National Accord (GNA) has struggled to impose its authority across the conflict-ridden country.
Field Marshall Haftar, whose forces control much of the south of Libya, has refused to back the GNA.
Mr Johnson’s visit to Benghazi was the first by a British government minister since 2011, and it is the first time he had met Field Marshall Haftar.
Speaking from Benghazi, the Foreign Secretary said: “Field Marshall Haftar has a role to play in the political process.
“I urged him to adhere to the commitments he made during recent meetings in Paris, to respect a ceasefire, and to work with Mr Salame in order to amend the Libyan Political Agreement.
“Ultimately it will be for Libyans to decide what an acceptable compromise looks like.
“I have encouraged all sides to resolve their differences by dialogue, not conflict, and to respect international human rights law.”
Mr Johnson also held talks with representatives from the Benghazi Free Zone and one of the items on the agenda was opportunities for UK companies to help stabilise Libya.
The aim of the project is to diversify the city’s economy and it already has the backing of a number of UK companies.
(c) Sky News 2017: Boris Johnson meets military strongman Haftar on Libya trip