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The New Arab

Rival Libyan factions 'agree to talks' in Cairo

Egypt announced the plans after a regional meeting [Getty]

Date of publication: 22 January, 2017

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Warring factions in Libya could soon engage in direct talks in Cairo, following a regional meeting with foreign ministers.
Direct talks between the leaders of rival Libyan authorities could soon be underway, after regional attempts to bring the warring factions together began on Saturday.

Plans to begin negotiations were announced by Egypt following a regional meeting between ministers from Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Niger, as well as UN envoy Martin Kobler, a source told The New Arab.

"A political solution is the only way to resolve the crisis in Libya," Egypt's foreign minister Minister Sameh Shoukry, who broke the updates, told a news conference.

"We are focusing our efforts on bringing Libyan leaders together for a direct dialogue, to build confidence and understanding," he told a news conference.

Libya has been torn apart by fighting between militias, tribes and the two rival governments since the fall of dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

The UN-backed Government of National Accord in Tripoli has struggled to impose its authority contested by a rival administration in eastern Tobruk.

Militarily, the eastern administration is backed by Haftar - a divisive figure with ties to Egypt and the United Arab Emirates - as well as an emerging alliance with Russia.

But the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity said "the current understanding is the leader of the nation will be an experienced Libyan diplomat that is backed and accepted by all parties".

Egypt's comments come despite its stance in supporting the controversial figure - a self-proclaimed commander of the Libyan National Army - described as a "war criminal" by a Libyan council earlier this month.

Cairo recently hosted Haftar, parliament speaker Aguila Saleh and unity government chief Fayez al-Sarraj in search of "common ground" that could help solve the crisis, Shoukry added.

GNA-aligned militias from the port city of Misrata, who led the fight to oust the Islamic State group from Sirte last year, control much of the west, while in the east, Haftar's forces have been fighting other militant groups for more than two years.

The latest updates could bring an end to a continuing power struggle in the African nation, where a power vaccum has allowed Islamic State militants to flourish.

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