UN calls for talks, ceasefire in Libya

United Nations (United States) (AFP) –


The UN Security Council called Friday for warring Libyan parties to recommit to political talks and agree to a ceasefire as a month-long offensive on the capital showed no signs of ending.

The unanimous press statement followed a closed-door meeting called by Britain to discuss the humanitarian situation in Tripoli as world powers seek to overcome divisions about how to respond to the crisis.

Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar, whose forces hold the east of the country, launched the offensive on April 4 to seize Tripoli, seat of the UN-recognized government.

The council "is deeply concerned about the instability in Tripoli and worsening humanitarian situation, which is endangering the lives of innocent civilians and threatens prospects for a political solution," said Indonesian Ambassador Dian Djani, whose country holds the council presidency.

The council "calls for all parties rapidly to return to UN political mediation, and to commit to a ceasefire and de-escalation to help mediation succeed."

Russia, the United States and Kuwait spoke out against including a call to uphold an arms embargo imposed on Libya in 2011, according to diplomats.

Germany had sought to include a mention of the ban after the United Nations raised concerns about new weaponry being supplied to both sides, in violation of the arms embargo.

UN sanctions experts are investigating supplies of missiles launched using Chinese-made drones that point to a possible involvement of the United Arab Emirates, in support of Haftar's forces, according to a confidential report seen by AFP.

UN envoy Ghassan Salame has been unsuccessful so far in trying to persuade Haftar to agree to turn away from the battlefield and return to talks with Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj.

Haftar is backed by Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, while support from world powers for Sarraj's Government of National Accord is increasingly shaky.

Britain was forced last month to put on hold a draft resolution demanding a ceasefire in the face of council divisions.

Libya descended into chaos following the 2011 overthrow of Moamer Kadhafi that has seen a bitter rivalry emerge between the Tripoli-based authorities and Haftar's supporters scrambling for control in the oil-rich country.