Libya: Military leaders resume UN-sponsored talks

Monday’s meeting is part of three-track talks aimed at ending the North African country’s long-running conflict.

Monday’s meeting makes up the security aspect of three-track talks, also involving political and economic tracks [Violaine Martin/UN via AFP]

Libya’s warring factions resumed military talks in Geneva aimed at ending the country’s long-running civil war, the UN said.

Monday’s meeting marks the fourth round of talks involving the Joint Military Commission under the auspices of the United Nations support mission for Libya (UNSMIL).

UN organisers say the round is expected to run through Saturday with hopes “the two sides will reach a solution to all outstanding issues in order to achieve a complete ceasefire across Libya”.

Libya has been racked by violence since a NATO-backed uprising in 2011 overthrew and killed veteran leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Since then, the North African country has been dominated by armed groups, riven by local conflicts, and divided between two bitterly opposed administrations: The UN-recognised Government of National Accord, headed by Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj, and a rival administration in the east affiliated with renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar.

Hopes for a permanent resolution have risen after the two sides in August separately announced they would cease hostilities.

Monday’s meeting made up the security aspect of three-track talks, also involving political and economic discussions.

Speaking at the start of the talks, UNSMIL head Stephanie Williams told the two sides success would have a positive effect on the political and economic tracks of the continuing UN-brokered negotiations aiming to end the years-long Libya conflict.

Williams, who met Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Friday in Moscow, said encouraging separate meetings were held with the two delegations over the past two days.

The Geneva-based military talks came ahead of an upcoming political forum in Tunisia in November. That forum aims to “generate consensus on a unified governance framework and arrangements that will lead to the holding of national elections”, the UN mission said.

Last month, the two sides reached preliminary agreements to exchange prisoners and open up air and land transit across the country’s divided territory. This breakthrough also accompanied the resumption of oil production after a months-long blockade by powerful tribes allied with Haftar.

Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army in April 2019 launched an offensive to try and capture the capital Tripoli. But that campaign collapsed in June in the face of a GNA counteroffensive.

Fighting has since died down amid international pressure on both sides to avert an attack on the strategic city of Sirte, the gateway to Libya’s major oil export terminals.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies