UN’s Libya envoy ‘quite optimistic’ on ceasefire talks

Williams says she is hopeful of prospects of a truce emerging from continuing talks between the two warring factions.

Stephanie Williams says the two sides agreed to maintain 'the current state of calm on the front lines' [Reuters]

The United Nations’ acting Libya envoy is “quite optimistic” that ongoing talks between the warring sides would lead to a lasting ceasefire.

Speaking at a news conference on Wednesday, Stephanie Williams said the two sides had also agreed to maintain “the current state of calm on the front lines and avoid any military escalation”.

“I’m quite optimistic… there is an air of seriousness and commitment,” said Williams, head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL).

“I am pleased to report that the two sides have reached agreement on several important issues which directly affect the lives and welfare of the Libyan people.”

Since 2014, Libya has been split between the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) in the capital Tripoli and Khalifa Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) in the east.

This week’s meeting between GNA and LNA military negotiators in Geneva will be followed by a political dialogue in Tunisia from November 9, Williams said.

Her remarks came after the two sides agreed to open internal land and air routes two days into the talks in Geneva.

Progress on a number of fronts

Libyan oil output resumed in August after an eight-month blockade by the LNA, but state producer the National Oil Corporation (NOC) has warned that there are risks posed by the Petroleum Facilities Guards (PFG), a force made up of local armed groups that patrols oil installations.

Williams said the sides had agreed to delegate commanders from both east and west to work with the NOC on a proposal to restructure the guards to “ensure the increase and continuation” of oil flow.

She also said they had agreed to make progress on an exchange of detainees between the warring sides and that the first flights between Tripoli and the eastern city of Benghazi would resume this week.

Williams added that GNA Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj’s announcement that he intends to step down by the end of this month “should help end the long period of transition” and move towards a democratically elected government and institutions.

The GNA is being backed by Turkey, while forces in the east of the country under Haftar are supported by Russia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.

“The degree of foreign intervention and foreign interference in Libya is unacceptable. These countries need to take their hands off of Libya,” Williams said, without naming any countries.

Source: News Agencies