UN says ‘encouraged’ by Libyan calls to resume peace talks to end conflict

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The United Nations on Sunday said it was encouraged by calls to resume talks on ending the conflict in Libya, a day after Egypt announced a unilateral peace initiative supported by the eastern Libyan camp.

The UN support mission in Libya (UNSML) said the fighting over the capital, Tripoli, for more than a year “has proven, beyond any doubt, that any war among Libyans is a losing war.”

The statement urged Libyan parties to “engage swiftly and constructively” in the UN-brokered military talks aimed at reaching a lasting cease-fire agreement, “accompanied by firm implementation of and respect for the recently renewed UN Arms Embargo on Libya.”

The UN said more than 16,000 Libyans were displaced in recent days by the latest bout of fighting in the capital and the town of Tarhouna, which lies 72 kilometers (45 miles) southeast.

Oil-rich Libya has been in turmoil since 2011 when a civil war toppled longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi, who was later killed.

Last year, the commander of the eastern Libyan forces, Khalifa Haftar, launched a campaign to capture Tripoli from the UN-recognized government of National Accord (GNA) headed by Fayez al-Sarraj. After months of stalemate, the clashes intensified as foreign backers of both sides increasingly intervened.

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Egypt’s initiative to end the fighting came after a meeting between President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Haftar. Al-Sisi said the road map includes a cease-fire starting Monday and is meant to pave the way for elections in the North African country.

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Libyan Crimes Watch, a UK-based rights group monitoring the Libyan war, said Turkish drone strikes by Tripoli-allied forces hit vehicles carrying fleeing residents of the town of Tarhouna on Saturday, killing at least 10 civilians including two children and wounding another.

A spokesman for the Tripoli-allied forces did not immediately respond to calls seeking comment.

Conte speaks by phone with the Egyptian president

Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte spoke by phone Sunday with the Egyptian president. Conte’s office said the conversation centered on “regional stability, with particular attention to the need for a rapid cease-fire and a return to the negotiating table in Libya.”

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