UN to host new round of Libya peace talks next week

Friday 28/08/2015
Migration crisis as well as persistent bloodshed at home

SKHIRAT (Morocco) - The United Nations said Friday it will host another round of Libyan peace talks in Geneva next week, stressing that completing an agreement was a matter of "extreme urgency".

The announcement came at the conclusion of two days of talks in Skhirat, near the Moroccan capital, aimed at finalising annexes of the agreement and a timeline for concluding the dialogue.

Libya has two rival parliaments and governments and has been torn apart since the international community helped to oust dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

The UN envoy to Libya, Bernardino Leon, expressed hope that the Islamist-backed government based in Tripoli "will rejoin the talks in Geneva after staying away in Skhirat".

Nonetheless, the UN said this week's talks were "held in a positive and constructive atmosphere, underscoring the participants' deep conviction that finalising the political agreement was a matter of extreme urgency."

"Well aware of their responsibilities... to work for a peaceful settlement to the political and military conflict ravaging Libya and threatening its unity, the participants agreed that it is high time to conclude the talks,"a statement said.

"Discussions focused on the way forward with an urgency to finalising the Libyan Political Agreement in the coming few days.

"For this, there was consensus to make the final push to expedite the dialogue to conclude the agreement according to the timelines they committed to in the Geneva round of dialogue" on August 11 and 12.

Participants will meet in Geneva on September 3 and 4 to complete the discussions with a view to finalising the Libyan Political Agreement for it to be ready for signing a few days afterwards, the statement added.

Earlier in the day, Leon urged Libya's warring factions to speed up the talks to help curb accidents in which hundreds of migrants have drowned off the country's shore as well as persistent bloodshed at home.

"The situation in Libya is becoming more difficult... because of the crisis of migration, which is now claiming so many lives," said the Spanish diplomat.

The Libyan Red Crescent said Friday at least 76 people died after a ship carrying hundreds of migrants and refugees sank off the lawless North African country's coast, while the UN warned as many as 200 people on two boats were feared dead.

"So many lives, so many young people, so many hopes lost at sea. It's another reason to expedite our work," said Leon at the start of a fresh round of talks in a process launched in January.

"Same things about terrorism. We have seen the fighting in central Libya, in the region of Sirte, becoming more and more difficult," he said.

Libya has two rival parliaments and governments, with Tripoli controlled by Islamist-backed Libya Dawn forces, and the internationally recognised government operating out of Tobruk, in the far east of the country.

The United Nations has been brokering talks aimed at establishing a unified government.

The factions agreed in January to set up a unity government to restore the stability shattered since the 2011 revolution which toppled longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

But negotiations on modalities and over posts have run into hurdles.