Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 February 2020

Libya talks in Moscow adjourn without signing of ceasefire deal

Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar sought extra time to consider terms of truce that went into effect on Sunday

A fighter loyal to the Libyan Government of National Accord patrols an area south of the Libyan capital Tripoli. AFP
A fighter loyal to the Libyan Government of National Accord patrols an area south of the Libyan capital Tripoli. AFP

Talks in Moscow to end Libya's conflict were adjourned on Monday without the two sides reaching an agreement, although a truce brokered by Russia and Turkey appeared to be holding despite reports of violations.

Fayez Al Sarraj, the head of Libya's UN-recognised government in Tripoli, and his rival, Field Marshal Khalifa Hafter, held talks behind closed doors with Russian and Turkish diplomats and military officials for about seven hours, but did not meet directly.

The rival governments are considering a draft document spelling out details of the truce that began Sunday. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu said that Mr Al Sarraj signed the draft agreement, while Field Marshal Hafter requested more time to consider it.

Mr Lavrov said Field Marshal Haftar and his delegation had "a positive view of the document" but asked for extra time until the next morning to decide.

The truce, which went into effect on Sunday, ended nine months of fighting after weeks of international diplomacy.

Libya has been wracked by bloody turmoil since a 2011 uprising led to the death of Muammar Qaddafi and the breakup of government. Various factions were left fighting to fill the power vacuum.

Since April, Mr Al Sarraj's Government of National Accord had been fending off advances from Field Marshal Haftar's Libyan National Army, which controls the east of the country.

The LNA captured the coastal city of Sirte on January 6, shortly before the ceasefire was announced.

Mr Al Sarraj on Monday called on Libyans to “turn the page on the past, reject discord and to close ranks to move towards stability and peace”.

Since the start of the offensive against Tripoli, more than 280 civilians and about 2,000 fighters have been killed and 146,000 Libyans displaced, the UN said.

“I think the ceasefire is a very fragile thing,” the UN envoy to Libya, Ghassan Salame, said in an interview on Sunday.

The truce follows a diplomatic offensive led by Ankara and Moscow, which have established themselves as key players in Libya.

Ankara sent troops to the GNA in January, supposedly in a training capacity, not as direct fighters.

Khaled Al Mechri, the head of Libya’s High Council of State, said the signing of the agreement in Moscow would pave the way for the revival of the political process.

The head of Russia’s contact group to Tripoli, Lev Dengov, said the rivals would have to determine in the Russian capital “the terms of the future settlement in Libya, including the possibility of signing an agreement on the ceasefire and its details”.

He said he did not know whether the men would agree to meet directly.

Field Marshal Haftar was accompanied by parliament speaker Aguila Saleh, while Mr Al Sarraj attended with Mr Mechri.

As the parties met in Moscow, Germany announced it would host a summit on Libya on January 19.

The Turkish presidency said Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan would come to Berlin for a one-day visit on the date suggested, but gave no further details.

Updated: January 13, 2020 09:25 PM

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