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Libya warring rivals resume talks in Geneva — UN

By AFP - Feb 20,2020 - Last updated at Feb 20,2020

Libyans wave the national flag as they commemorate the ninth anniversary of the uprising against former Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi, in the capital Tripoli, on Monday (AFP photo)

GENEVA — Libya's warring sides have resumed talks in Geneva aimed at brokering a lasting ceasefire in the war-torn country, the UN said on Thursday.

"The talks are underway again," Jean El-Alam, spokesman for the United Nations Support Mission in Libya, told AFP, days after the country's unity 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 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 months of bombardment by Haftar's forces.

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

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.

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 towards 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 leader Mummar Qadhafi, 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 United Nations.

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