White House: Trump spoke to Libyan commander Haftar

White House: Trump spoke to Libyan commander Haftar

White House: Trump spoke to Libyan commander Haftar

The White House said on April 19 that President Donald Trump spoke by phone earlier in the week and discussed "ongoing counterterrorism efforts" with Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar, leader of a military assault on the capital Tripoli in opposition to the internationally recognized government.

In Libya on April 19, two children were killed by shelling in the southern Tripoli suburb of Qaser Ben Ghasher, residents said. Officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

A White House statement said that in the phone call on April 15, Trump "recognized Field Marshal Haftar's significant role in fighting terrorism and securing Libya's oil resources, and the two discussed a shared vision for Libya's transition to a stable, democratic political system.”

It was unclear why the White House waited several days to announce the phone call. Europe and the Gulf have been divided over a push by Haftar's forces to seize Tripoli.

Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said: "A military solution is not what Libya needs." He said he supported Haftar's "role in counterterrorism" and that Washington needed Haftar's "support in building democratic stability there in the region."

Asked whether Trump contacted him before calling Haftar, Shanahan said the Pentagon and the White House "are well-aligned on Libya."