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UN says Libya cease-fire talks have begun

GENEVA (AA): The UN said Friday that cease-fire talks in Libya began on June 3, with the UN support mission and Libyan warlord Khalifa Haftar’s forces operating in the east of Libya.

At a twice-weekly press conference, UN Information Services Director Alessandra Vellucci answered a question from Anadolu Agency about the talks.

Citing the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) communications chief, Vellucci said the initial talks were held between UNSMIL and Haftar’s delegation.

“He said that the talks were happening as they had mentioned, and because of COVID-19, the talks are virtual. They started on June 3,” said Vellucci.

After the ouster of late ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011,Libya’s government was founded in 2015 under a UN-led agreement, but efforts for a long-term political settlement failed due to the military offensive by Haftar’s forces.

Following the January Berlin Conference on Libya, it was decided to establish three separate negotiating tracks — military, economic and political — under the auspices of the UN to try to resolve the crisis in the country.

Political talks floundered late February in Geneva after the completion of a second round of the UN-sponsored military talks between the conflicting parties.

The Libyan Joint Military Commission (JMC) talks were in a 5+5 format with five representatives of the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA), and five from the forces loyal to Haftar.

The JMC is one of the three tracks that UNSMIL is working on, in compliance with UN Security Council Resolution 2510 (2020), and it calls upon the two parties to reach a lasting cease-fire agreement.

Libya’s internationally recognized has been under attack by Haftar’s forces since April 2019, with more than 1,000 killed in the violence.

In March, the Libyan government launched Operation Peace Storm to counter attacks on the capital and recently regained strategic locations, including the Al-Watiya airbase and Tarhuna city, seen as a significant blow to Haftar’s forces.

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