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UN to host Libyan ceasefire talks

Libya’s warring parties will continue talks this month to try to reach a lasting ceasefire in a war for control of the capital Tripoli, the United Nations said on Saturday, after a first round in Geneva last week failed to yield an agreement.

The U.N. hosted indirect talks between five officers from the Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Khalifa Haftar, which has been trying to take Tripoli since April, and the same number from forces of the internationally recognized government in Tripoli.

Fighting has calmed down since last month although skirmishes with artillery have continued in southern Tripoli, which the LNA has been unable to breach in its campaign.

Both sides had agreed to continue the dialogue with the U.N. proposing a follow-up meeting on Feb. 18 in Geneva, the U.N. mission to Libya (UNSMIL) said in a statement.

It said the two sides wanted people displaced by the war to return but had been unable to agree on how to achieve this, without elaborating.

There was no immediate comment from either side in the conflict.

UNSMIL gave no update on efforts to end a blockade of major oil ports and oilfields by forces and tribesmen loyal to the LNA.

On Thursday, U.N. Libya envoy Ghassan Salame said he had talked to tribesmen behind the blockade and was awaiting their demands.

He also said the blockade will be at the top of the agenda at a meeting in Cairo on Sunday between representatives from eastern, western and southern Libya seeking to overcome economic divisions in a country with two governments.

Diplomats said the Cairo meeting would be mainly attended by technical experts to prepare a wider dialogue to be followed in coming months.

In a sign that a reopening of ports might not be imminent, tribes and communities in oil-rich areas in eastern Libya held by the LNA said in a statement that they opposed resuming oil exports unless Tripoli is freed of militias, a demand of the LNA.

They also demanded the withdrawal of Syrian fighters sent by Turkey to help defend Tripoli against the LNA, which enjoys the backing of Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Russian mercenaries.

Furthermore, they called for what they described as a fair distribution of oil revenues, another demand of the LNA and people in the east, where many complain of neglect going back to Muammar Gaddafi, toppled in a 2011 uprising which plunged Libya into chaos.

State oil firm NOC, which is based in Tripoli and serves the whole country, sends oil revenues to the central bank which mainly works with the Tripoli government, although it also pays some civil servants in the east.

Source: Reuters

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