Libya’s warring parties make progress in talks – UN envoy

Salame said the two sides were not meeting together but engaged in “shuttle diplomacy” with separate meetings.
Ghassan Salame, UN special envoy for Libya and head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), delivers a speech at the mission headquarters in the capital Tripoli on March 20, 2019. (Photo by Mahmud TURKIA / AFP)

United Nation’s envoy in Libya Ghassan Salame on Thursday reported “progress” in talks between military representatives of the country’s warring parties on coming up with a lasting ceasefire that could include a UN monitoring role.

“Progress has been made on many important issues,” Salame told reporters in Geneva, adding that there were still “two or three points of divergence”, an AFP report said.

“We are still working on refining our basic draft. I hope that we can have an agreement before we leave Geneva” following this week’s talks, Salame said.

Five senior officers appointed by the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) and five appointed by the Libyan National Army (LNA) of strongman Khalifa Haftar are taking part in the military commission talks.

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Salame said the two sides were not meeting together but engaged in “shuttle diplomacy” with separate meetings.

“If it is easier to have an agreement through shuttle diplomacy, we do not have a problem with that,” he said.

“I am not here for the picture of the two sides shaking hands,” he added.

Asked about monitoring, he added: “I can tell you that the joint military commission would be involved in the monitoring of the ceasefire under the auspices of the United Nations in Libya. That is acceptable to both sides.”

Salame also said that a separate commission dealing with economic affairs between the two sides would meet in Cairo on Sunday and he was hopeful that a political dialogue between them could begin in Geneva on February 26.

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At a summit in the German capital Berlin last month, world leaders committed to ending all foreign interference in the oil-rich country and to uphold a weapons embargo to help end the long-running civil war.

But Salame said the embargo was being breached with weapons, ammunition and foreign fighters arriving to support both sides in the conflict.

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