Libyan peace talks fall short

57

Libya’s warring leaders made progress at indirect peace talks in Moscow but failed to agree an open-ended ceasefire to end a nine-month war over Tripoli.

In talks lasting eight hours, mediators Russia and Turkey urged the rivals to sign a binding truce and pave the way for a settlement to stabilise the North African country mired in chaos since the toppling of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

Fayez al-Serraj, who heads Libya’s Tripoli-based internationally recognised government which struggles to fend off an offensive by the eastern based Libya National Army (LNA) faction, signed the ceasefire agreement, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

“Today we can report progress was made,” Lavrov told reporters at the Moscow mansion where talks were held.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said LNA commander Khalifa Haftar asked for until Tuesday morning to decide on the ceasefire.

In a sign the LNA might continue its offensive it said on an official website it was “ready and determined” to achieve victory.

It gave no details, but another website close to the force said Haftar will not sign the ceasefire proposal. Pro-LNA channels said Haftar left Moscow.

Pro-LNA social media posts called for a rally to support Haftar in Benghazi.

The Russo-Turkish initiative, which involved indirect contact between the Libyan delegations, is the latest attempt to end chaos in the oil-producing country.

Russia’s TASS news agency reported Serraj refused to engage in direct talks with Haftar, forcing Russian and Turkish diplomats to act as go-betweens.

The men last met in Abu Dhabi in February 2019 before talks broke down over a power-sharing deal and Haftar moved his troops on Tripoli in April, expanding control beyond the east and south.

Speaking alongside Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte in Ankara, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said his country was working to ensure a ceasefire in Libya becomes permanent.

He hoped the Moscow talks would form the basis of discussions at a summit in Berlin on Sunday, which he would attend with Conte and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel planned to host a summit after talks with Putin.

TRIPOLI



Turkey backs Haftar’s rival, Serraj, while Russian military contractors deployed alongside Haftar’s LNA forces, backed by the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Jordan.