UN says Libyan rivals have restarted military talks in Egypt

AP , Tuesday 29 Sep 2020

The UN mission in Libya said both sides have demonstrated 'a positive and proactive attitude aimed at de-escalation of the situation in central Libya'

File photo from AFP: Khalifa Haftar, the military commander of the NLA based in the country’s east (Right) and Libya’s Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj based in the capital Tripoli (Left).

Libyan rivals on Monday restarted military and security talks, aiming to reach a settlement that could help end the country's years-long conflict, the United Nations said.

The UN support mission in Libya said in a brief statement that military and police teams from eastern and western Libya met in Egypt's Red Sea resort of Hurghada.
The face-to-face military talks came amid international pressure on both sides of the war and their foreign backers to avert an attack on the strategic city of Sirte, after a year-long assault on the capital, Tripoli, by the National Libyan Army (LNA) led by commander Khalifa Haftar, which collapsed this summer.
The UN mission said both sides have demonstrated ``a positive and proactive attitude aimed at de-escalation of the situation in central Libya.''
The outcome of the Egypt-based negotiations will be mainstreamed into UN-brokered military talks, the UN mission said.
Oil-rich Libya was plunged into chaos when a NATO-backed uprising in 2011 toppled longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi, who was later killed. The country has since split between rival east- and west-based administrations, each backed by armed groups and foreign governments.
Haftar's forces launched an offensive in April 2019 to try and capture Tripoli. But his campaign collapsed in June when the Tripoli-allied militias, with heavy Turkish support, gained the upper hand, driving his forces from the outskirts of the city and other western towns.
Hafter is supported by Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Russia. Tripoli-allied militias have backing from Turkey, Syrian mercenaries, as well as from the wealthy Gulf state of Qatar.
Fighting has died down in recent months, but both sides were preparing for a possible battle over Sirte, the gateway to Libya's major oil fields and export terminals, controlled by Haftar.
Egypt-based military and security talks came after both sides, under heavy international pressure, agreed earlier this month on a preliminary deal that aims to guide the country toward elections within 18 months and demilitarize Sirte, which is held by Haftar.
*This story was edited by Ahram Online
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