Libya ceasefire talks going in “right direction”


Ceasefire talks between Libya’s warring sides are going in the “right direction” while hitting hurdles over arms embargo violations and a truce declared last month, the UN envoy for Libya said.

Ghassan Salame spoke to Reuters during a break in military talks in Geneva, which resumed after the internationally-recognised government in Tripoli pulled out of negotiations as renegade forces shelled the capital’s port.

“It is not that one side is back, it is one side came back with the intention to move forward, which is different,” Salame said. “Are we going into the right direction? My conviction is we are.”

Turkey backs the Government of National Accord in Tripoli to fend off the Libyan National Army, in the east and backed by the United Arab Emirates and Egypt.

LNA commander Khalifa Haftar told Russia’s RIA news agency a ceasefire would only be possible if Turkish and Syrian fighters stopped supporting the GNA.

Salame, asked about Haftar’s preconditions and whether there the other side was prepared to accept such demands, said: “I think these demands are reasonable and I think they are viewed as reasonable by the other party as well. The whole question is when, where, and what is the quid pro quo? That’s what the negotiation is about.”

Salame expected political-level talks to convene in Geneva next Wednesday but he was working on confidence-building measures.

“In parallel we are trying to make air travel safer in Libya especially from Mitiga as well as Misrata. We are trying to reopen the port to be a safe harbour. And we are trying to help in an exchange of prisoners.”

Salame was conducting shuttle talks in separate sessions with GNA and LNA military officials, rather than bringing them together.

“We are firm in our determination to launch the political process the way we did with economic and military talks,” Salame said.