UN Libya envoy says airstrikes threaten peace talks

AP News
Posted: Mar 06, 2015 3:36 PM
UN Libya envoy says airstrikes threaten peace talks

RABAT, Morocco (AP) — The U.N. special envoy to Libya on Friday warned the warring parties in the North African country against carrying out attacks while sensitive negotiations are taking place in Morocco.

Bernardino Leon said after the second day of talks that airstrikes over the past two days in Libya "were a serious threat" to the ongoing talks.

"The international community will not allow such threats to the political process," he said.

For the first time, representatives of the two rival Libyan parliaments are engaging in talks to form a national unity government and come up with security arrangements.

The country has descended into chaos as well-armed militias are battling for control over the country's oil infrastructure and rival governments have been set up in the east in Tripoli and the west in Tobruk.

Leon has expressed optimism over the Morocco talks, saying that the rapid deterioration of the situation has injected willingness among the parties to negotiate.

"It won't give solutions in one or two days," Leon said, but added he hoped to see "very important advancements" in the next few days.

Ahead of the talks, Libyan forces based in Tobruk announced a three day moratorium on airstrikes to create an environment conducive to talks, but according to the U.N. airstrikes were carried out both on Thursday and Friday.

The deterioration of the situation in Libya since the 2011 overthrow of leader Muammar Gadhafi has increasingly alarmed Europe and the United States, especially with the rise of groups claiming allegiance to the radical Islamic State group.

Western officials are hoping the Libyan factions can mend their differences and move together against the Islamic State group, which last month beheaded 20 Egyptian Christians.

So far, the delegates are meeting with the U.N. separately though there are hopes the talks could eventually be conducted face to face.