Rival Libyan leaders to hold Moscow peace talks on Monday – news agencies

By Reuters 13 January 2020
epa08124119 Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (3-L), Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar (2-L), Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (4-R) and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu (3-R) attend talks in Moscow, Russia, 13 January 2020. Foreign and defense ministers of Russia and Turkey met as part of an effort by Moscow and Ankara to sponsor talks between rival parties in Libya, in the Russian capital. EPA-EFE/PAVEL GOLOVKIN POOL

MOSCOW, Jan 13 (Reuters) - Libya's warring rival leaders will hold peace talks in Moscow on Monday alongside representatives from Russia and Turkey, Russian news agencies cited the Russian Foreign Ministry as saying.

The talks come after a ceasefire in Libya, initiated by Turkey and Russia, saw a lull in heavy fighting and air strikes on Sunday, though both factions accused each other of violating the truce as skirmishes continued around the capital Tripoli.

Monday’s Moscow talks will be attended by Khalifa Haftar, commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA), and by Fayez al-Serraj, who heads the rival Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA), Russian news agencies reported.

Russia and Turkey’s foreign and defence ministers would also take part in the talks, the Interfax news agency cited the Russian Foreign Ministry as saying.

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Lev Dengov, the head of the Russian contact group on Libya, said the warring factions would discuss “the possibility of signing a truce and the details of such a document,” Interfax reported.

Libya, which has been mired in turmoil since the toppling of strongman Muammar Gaddafi, has had two rival governments since 2014. The conflict between the forces of the two factions has wrecked the country’s economy, fuelled migrant smuggling and militancy, and disrupted oil supplies.

The Russo-Turkish peace push, the latest international attempt to stem the violence, comes more than nine months into an offensive on Tripoli by the LNA led by Haftar.

Turkey backs Haftar’s rival, Serraj, who heads the Tripoli-based GNA, while Russian military contractors have been deployed alongside Haftar’s LNA forces.

Asked about those mercenaries, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Saturday that any Russian citizens fighting in Libya were not representing the interests of the Russian state or receiving money from it.

During a visit to Moscow on Saturday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Berlin wanted to host Libyan peace talks to build on what she said she hoped would be successful joint efforts by Russia and Turkey to stop the conflict. (Reporting by Anton Kolodyazhnyy; Writing by Alexander Marrow; Editing by Andrew Osborn)



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