Libya’s warring rivals resume talks in Geneva: UN

The UN-recognised government pulled out of peace talks after a barrage of rockets hit a port in the capital, Tripoli.

UN Envoy for Libya Ghassan Salame
United Nations envoy for Libya Ghassan Salame struggled to bring the warring sides back to the negotiating table this week [Denis Balibouse/Reuters]

Libya’s warring sides resumed talks in Geneva on Thursday aimed at brokering a lasting ceasefire in the war-torn country.

“The talks are under way again,” said Jean El Alam, spokesman for the United Nations Support Mission in Libya, days after the country’s UN-recognised government announced it was halting its participation.

UN Libya envoy Ghassan Salame launched a second round of military talks on Tuesday with five senior officers from Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA) and five negotiators representing renegade eastern military commander Khalifa Haftar’s forces.

The GNA then pulled out of the process after a barrage of rockets hit a port in the capital Tripoli – the target of months of bombardment by Haftar’s forces.

Al Jazeera’s Diplomatic Editor James Bays, reporting from Geneva, said that since the rocket attack and subsequent GNA pullout, the UN has been trying to “pick up the pieces”.

“It is a very ambitious timeline that the UN is pursuing here. These talks are aimed at getting a durable ceasefire – that’s why the GNA was so upset by the attack while they were taking place,” he said, adding that in one week, the UN plans wider talks involving all political factions in Libya.

Libya’s GNA suspends ceasefire talks after Tripoli port attack

“Eventually they hope to have UN-brokered elections in the country.”

‘More hope’

The port strikes were the latest violation of a tenuous truce that came into effect in January and was brokered by Russia, which supports Haftar, and Turkey, which supports the UN-recognised government in Tripoli.

The first round of military talks ended with no result earlier this month, but Salame said there was “more hope” this time, mainly because of the approval of a UN Security Council resolution calling for a “lasting ceasefire”.

Several rounds of talks focused on economic issues, including fairer distribution of Libya’s oil wealth, have also taken place in Egypt and Tunisia, while talks aimed at a political solution are scheduled to start in Geneva on February 26.

Libya has been in turmoil since a 2011 NATO-backed uprising killed longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi, with rival armed factions still vying for power.

In the latest outbreak of fighting, Haftar launched his offensive on Tripoli last April. But after rapid advances, his forces stalled on the edges of the capital.

The fighting has left more than 1,000 people dead and displaced some 140,000, according to the UN.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies