The United Nations has said Libya’s warring sides were “fully” engaged in military talks aimed at ending the fighting in the country, calling the virtual meetings “productive”.
The UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) said on Wednesday that it had convened a meeting with a delegation from renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar’s eastern-based forces on June 3, and another on Tuesday with a delegation from the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli.
“Both meetings – which were conducted virtually – were productive and enabled UNSMIL to discuss with the delegations the latest developments on the ground,” the mission said.
The North African country, a major oil producer, has been mired in turmoil since 2011, when longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi was toppled in a NATO-backed uprising.
It is now split between two rival administrations: the GNA in Tripoli and the eastern-based House of Representatives allied with Haftar.
UNSMIL is pleased to announce that both, Government of National Accord (GNA) and the Libyan National Army (LNA) delegations, are fully engaged in the third round of talks of the (5+5) Joint Military Commission (JMC). https://t.co/C134zriaT9 pic.twitter.com/7ulZnwSr5U
— UNSMIL (@UNSMILibya) June 10, 2020
The latest round of talks came after the collapse of a 14-month offensive by Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) to capture Tripoli and its retreat from most of its territory in northwest Libya following a series of military setbacks.
A GNA effort from Monday to push further east and capture the central city of Sirte, effectively wiping out all the LNA’s gains since the start of its Tripoli campaign in April 2019, was repulsed with air raids, an LNA military source was quoted as saying by Reuters news agency.
Between June 5 and 8, the mission said it documented at least 19 civilian deaths, including those of three women and five children as well as 12 injuries in three locations outside Sirte as a result of heavy shelling.
The GNA is backed by Turkey while Haftar’s self-styled LNA is supported by the United Arab Emirates, Russia and Egypt.
Separately, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Wednesday said his country has rejected a ceasefire proposal by Egypt, claiming the plan was aimed at saving Haftar.
“The ceasefire effort in Cairo was stillborn. If a ceasefire is to be signed, it should be done at a platform that brings everyone together,” Cavusoglu told the Hurriyet Daily News.
“The ceasefire call to save Haftar does not seem sincere or believable to us.”