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Libya peace talks set for early January: UN envoy

The United Nations has urged rival militias to end the deadly violence gripping Libya, and called for a unity government to be formed
The UN estimates that hundreds of people have been killed in Libya militia violence (AA)

A new round of peace talks aiming to end the fighting in Libya will be held on 5 January after the country's warring factions have appeared to agree on a path forward, United Nations diplomats said.

Chad's envoy to the UN, Mahamat Zene Cherif, whose country holds the Council's rotating presidency this month, said on Tuesday that the roadmap contained three points.

He did not outline details, but said one element was "a national unity government which would be composed of representatives from the two camps".

A lawmaker in Libya's Tobruk-based parliament also said that UN Envoy to Libya Bernardino Leon had called for forming a coalition government and holding a second round of peace negotiations outside Libya.

"Leon arrived in Tobruk on Monday where he met with parliament speaker Aguilah Saleh and the rest of the assembly's leadership," MP Tarek al-Garoushi told Anadolu news agency.

"At the meeting, Leon made several suggestions, including the formation of a coalition government that would include the country's warring factions to guarantee a resolution to the crisis," al-Garoushi said.

"Leon also proposed holding a second round of negotiations outside Libya," he added, since the parties to the conflict cannot agree on a local negotiating venue.

Since September, the UN Support Mission in Libya has led efforts to resolve the country's political crisis.

A first round of talks was held in September, but ended with no result. More talks had been planned for this month, but were repeatedly postponed.

In the three years since the 2011 ouster of leader Muammar Qaddafi, rival Libyan militias have been frequently fighting, bringing violence to Libya's main cities, including the capital, Tripoli, and the eastern city of Benghazi.

The sharp divisions have yielded two rival seats of government, each of which has its own institutions.

Two assemblies currently vie for legislative authority: the House of Representatives, which convenes in Tobruk, and the General National Congress, which continues to convene in Tripoli, even though its mandate ended this summer.

Also on Tuesday, the UN Support Mission in Libya said that hundreds of people have been killed - including 450 in Benghazi alone - in the violence, while more than 120,000 have been displaced from the west of the country, and 90,000 others were displaced from Benghazi.

Libya is also facing acute food and medicine shortages, the UN said.

“All those suffering in this violence deserve to live in safety with their rights fully protected," Leon said in a statement. "I appeal to all Libyan political and military leaders to engage, as a matter of urgency, in a genuine political dialogue to take Libya out of the current crisis."