Libya’s two warring factions hold third round of UN-led ceasefire talks

Parties called on to de-escalate violence and prevent further civilian casualties

FILE PHOTO: Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar meets Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis (not pictured) at the Parliament in Athens, Greece, January 17, 2020. REUTERS/STAFF/File Photo
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Libya’s two warring parties entered their third round of ceasefire talks on Wednesday, in an attempt to bring an end to a civil war that has been raging since 2014.

The Government of National Accord and the Libyan National Army, led by eastern-based commander Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, spoke on video call with the UN support mission in Libya, the mission said.

Militias aligned with GNA Prime Minister Fayez Al Sarraj's forces have in recent weeks repelled a 14-month assault on Tripoli by the LNA.

The mission convened a ceasefire meeting with the LNA delegation on June 3 and another with the GNA delegation on June 9. It described both meetings as "productive".

The talks allowed "the mission to discuss with the delegations the latest developments on the ground and to receive their comments on the draft ceasefire agreement, as presented by the mission to the parties on February 23", it said.

It called on both parties to de-escalate to avoid further civilian casualties and new waves of displacement.

The mission said it was particularly concerned by reports of escalation and mobilisation in and around the city of Sirte.

It verified that between June 5 and 8, at least 19 civilian deaths, including three women and five children, and at least 12 injuries to civilians in at least three places outside Sirte, had been caused by air strikes and rockets.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday welcomed the resumption of ceasefire talks and urged swift negotiations to achieve a truce.

"The agreement between the GNA and LNA to re-enter UN security talks was a good first step, very positive," Mr Pompeo said.

"Quick and good-faith negotiations are now required to implement a ceasefire and relaunch the UN-led intra-Libyan political talks."

Egypt called for a ceasefire starting on Monday, as part of an initiative that also proposed an elected leadership council for Libya.

Russia and the UAE welcomed the plan, while Germany said UN-backed talks were key to the peace process.

US President Donald Trump had a phone call with Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah El Sisi on Wednesday.

Mr Trump praised Mr El Sisi's efforts "to promote political reconciliation and de-escalation" in Libya.

The two leaders also discussed ways to resume the UN’s ceasefire talks and the departure of all foreign forces from Libya.

Turkey on Wednesday dismissed Egypt's proposal for a ceasefire in Libya, Hurriyet newspaper reported.

Turkey supports the GNA but Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu dismissed Cairo's proposal.