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Libya peace talks continue after 'positive' start

Libya peace talks are off to a promising start despite being shunned by some groups
UN special envoy for Libya Bernardino Léon said the talks in Geneva will be tortuous (AA)

GENEVA, Switzerland - UN-brokered talks on ending armed chaos in Libya continued for a second day Thursday in Geneva after a promising start despite being shunned by some groups.

"Discussions during the first session on Wednesday were constructive and were conducted in a positive atmosphere," the UN mission in Libya said in a statement.

"There was a clear sense of determination among the participants to ensure that this dialogue succeeds."

The North African nation has been gripped by civil conflict since the overthrow of dictator Moamar Kadhafi in a NATO-backed uprising in 2011, with rival governments and powerful militias battling for control of key cities and the nation's oil wealth.

But UN special envoy to Libya Bernardino Leon warned at the start of the talks Wednesday that they would be tortuous.

"We are not expecting to have a breakthrough tomorrow or the day after tomorrow," said Leon, who is overseeing the dialogue.

The talks are aimed at reaching agreement on a unity government to replace the rival administrations, whose battle for power has left hundreds dead over the past six months.

They also seek to "put in place the necessary security arrangements for bringing about a total cessation of armed hostilities" and to "secure a phased withdrawal of all armed groups from all major towns and cities."

Libya's internationally recognised government decamped last summer to the eastern city of Tobruk after an Islamist-backed militia alliance seized the capital Tripoli and set up its own administration. 

The alliance known as Fajr Libya (Libya Dawn) also holds the third city, Misrata. It launched a bloody offensive in December to seize control of key oil terminals but was repelled by the army.

Although all factions are represented in Geneva, according to Leon, the Tripoli arm of Libya Dawn is holding out and will only take a decision on attending on Sunday.

The talks were to continue until the end of the week and a review was to be held over the weekend to determine if they should continue next week.

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