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Libya ceasefire talks in Geneva end with no agreement

UN has proposed second round of negotiations for 18 February
GNA fighters rest near Tripoli amid relative calm of past month (AFP)

Talks between representatives of Libya's warring parties in Geneva this week ended on Saturday with no deal on a ceasefire. The UN has proposed a second round of negotiations for 18 February.

The talks aim to end fighting between the UN-recognised government in Tripoli and eastern-based military commander Khalifa Haftar. In April, Haftar launched an offensive on Tripoli and has made small gains with the help of Russian mercenaries.

"As both sides agreed to the need to continue the negotiations in order to reach a comprehensive ceasefire agreement, the UN has proposed 18 February 2020 as the date for a new round of talks" in Geneva, the UN said in a statement, according to AFP.

It said the two sides wanted people displaced by the war to return, but had been unable to agree on how to achieve this, without elaborating.

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UN Libya envoy Ghassan Salame earlier said the two sides agreed on the need to turn their truce into a full ceasefire, but there were "points of divergence".

There was no immediate comment from either side in the conflict, Reuters said.

Fighting has calmed down since last month, although skirmishes with artillery have continued in southern Tripoli, which Haftar's forces have been unable to breach in its campaign.

Five senior officers from the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) and five appointed by Haftar's Libyan National Army (LNA) took part in the talks as part of a "military commission" set up in broader peace negotiations.

At a summit in Berlin last month, world leaders committed to ending all foreign interference in the country and to uphold a weapons embargo to help end the long-running civil war.

The UN gave no update on efforts to end a blockade of major oil ports and oil fields by forces and tribesmen loyal to the LNA.

On Thursday, the UN's Salame said he had talked to tribesmen behind the blockade and was awaiting their demands.

He also said the blockade will be at the top of the agenda at a meeting in Cairo on Sunday between representatives from eastern, western and southern Libya seeking to overcome economic divisions in a country with two governments.

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In a sign that a reopening of ports might not be imminent, tribes and communities in oil-rich areas in eastern Libya held by the LNA said in a statement that they opposed resuming oil exports unless Tripoli is freed of militias, a demand of the LNA.

They also demanded the withdrawal of Syrian fighters sent by Turkey to help defend Tripoli against the LNA, which enjoys the backing of Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Russian mercenaries.

Furthermore, they called for what they described as a fair distribution of oil revenue, another demand of the LNA and people in the east, where many complain of neglect.

State oil firm NOC, which is based in Tripoli and serves the whole country, sends oil revenue to the central bank, which mainly works with the Tripoli government, although it also pays some civil servants in the east.

Libya's oil production has plunged by about three-quarters since forces loyal to Haftar began their blockade, the NOC said late last month.

The oil-rich country has been torn by fighting between rival factions since a 2011 Nato-backed uprising killed former leader Muammar Gaddafi.