Published: Thu, May 04, 2017
Global | By Maureen Mccoy

UAE says 'significant breakthrough' reached in Libya talks

Global powers had for months been pushing the two men to discuss resetting a UN-mediated agreement that led to the creation of Seraj's Government of National Accord (GNA) in late 2015.

Conflicting accounts of initial agreements and leaks of documents neither side signed have in the past confused global mediation and negotiations to end the conflict in Libya, which fell into factional fighting in the years after a 2011 civil war ousted Muammar Gaddafi.

Haftar, the dominant figure for factions in eastern Libya, reversed a previous refusal to engage with the GNA, which is largely rejected in his region.

A statement by the UAE Foreign Ministry on Wednesday - the first official word on Tuesday's talks - said Haftar and Seraj had achieved "a significant breakthrough".

Tuesday's meeting could be a step towards ending a stalemate between competing loose alliances that pushed the country into open warfare in 2014.

It also said amendments to the United Nations -mediated deal that resulted in the creation of the GNA in late 2015 had been discussed, without giving details.

Libya is now split between rival governments and warring militias.

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A meeting between the Head of the Presidency Council (PC) and the east-based army commander planned by Cairo in February did not happen after Haftar refused to meet Serraj in the absence of his political supporter, the Head of the House of Representatives (HoR), Aguila Saleh Issa.

The sources, who asked to remain anonymous, added that the two parties agreed to form communication channels between the PC and the Operation Dignity (which was described by Haftar as Libyan national army).

Both men said they had agreed to put an end to violence in southern Libya, where LNA and pro-GNA forces have clashed in early April around an air base on the edge of the southern city of Sebha.

The meeting also comes as Sarraj seeks "badly needed legitimisation" from the eastern authorities, even as he struggles with internal support in western Libya where factions are hostile to Haftar, he said.

"The UAE believes that any solution that brings stability to Libya should come from and be supported by the Libyans and should be purely based on Libyan-Libyan dialogue", the Foreign Ministry said.

Haftar has also indicated that he expected to take Tripoli, though many observers doubt he has the capacity to do so.

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