Libyan peace talks stuck in quagmire

Abdulhadi Ibrahim Lahweej, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Libyan Interim Government, speaks about 'Libya towards an end ?', during a press conference, at the Geneva press club, in Geneva, Switzerland, 26 February 2020. EPA-EFE/MARTIAL TREZZINI

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Rival Libyan politicians met on Wednesday for U.N.-sponsored political talks in Geneva aimed at ending the latest round of fighting over the country’s capital, Tripoli.

Yet just hours later, the High Council of State, an advisory body to the western Tripoli-based government, sent a letter to the U.N. mission demanding that talks be suspended until “concrete progress is made” in ongoing military negotiations.

In the east of the country, the spokesperson for the rival Tobruk-based House of Representatives also requested a postponement and said it would pull its participants.

In the wake of intensified international diplomatic efforts, the U.N. launched three parallel tracks of negotiations to push a cease-fire and resolve various crises in war-torn Libya. It’s an uphill battle in a country with competing political structures.

Disagreements over the delegate list for Wednesday’s talks swiftly surfaced, as rival officials objected to the last-minute inclusion of several independent politicians in the Tripoli delegation.

“We stress our agreement to choosing the group of additional representatives…to ensure it represents a cross section of Libyan society,” said the High Council of State letter.

Ghassan Salame, the U.N. envoy for Libya, briefed a closed meeting of the U.N. Security Council late Wednesday by video after the Geneva meeting which he organized.

Diplomats said after the U.N. briefing that Salame told members the eastern delegation from Tobruk didn’t show up in Geneva, and he urged countries with influence to pressure the delegation to attend the talks.

Read more via AP

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