World powers urge Libya rivals to seize \'last chance\' for peace

Friday 05/06/2015
Time is running out

BERLIN - World powers urged Libya's warring factions at a meeting in Berlin to wrap up peace talks quickly, calling the current round of negotiations a "last chance" for progress.

Twenty-three Libyan envoys joined diplomats from the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council in the German capital and other Western nations at a meeting announced Tuesday by Bernardino Leon, chief of the UN Support Mission in Libya.

The governments and the EU issued a statement calling on "all Libyan parties to overcome the remaining obstacles to an agreement, to create a conducive environment for a lasting and inclusive solution to the current conflicts, to immediately cease all hostilities and to prevent all actions that may disturb the political process."

Libya descended into chaos after a 2011 NATO-backed uprising toppled and killed dictator Muammar Gaddafi, with heavily armed former rebels carving out fiefdoms across the country.

Germany's top diplomat, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who hosted the Berlin meeting, said that time was running out to wrap up a peace accord.

"The round of negotiations that just began moderated by Bernardino Leon is perhaps the last chance for a long time for Libya to avoid breaking apart," he said at the meeting.

Participants said in the final communique that they would offer "significant support" to a government of national accord in the oil-rich country.

Leon is pushing for a final peace agreement before the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan on June 17.

"We can continue to work for days and months to reach the perfect agreement but Libya doesn't have the time," Leon said.

He presented a draft deal to delegations from the rival sides at talks in Morocco this week but Libya's internationally recognised parliament said Tuesday it was "very unhappy" with the proposal.

The Libyan negotiators were to return home on Thursday to continue debating the peace plan.

Leon expressed optimism that a deal could still be reached.

"The door is still open," he said.

"The general feeling is quite positive but it will require very hard work."

Jihadist groups have exploited the lawlessness, which has also prompted a huge influx of migrants trying to make the dangerous crossing to Europe, with shipwrecks leaving hundreds dead and the EU straining to respond.

Beyond the Libyan parties, diplomats from the five members of the UN Security Council -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -- attended the gathering as well as Italy, Spain and the EU and a handful of Libya's neighbours.