Libyan talks pause for consultations amid progress signs

AP News
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Posted: Mar 07, 2015 1:25 PM
Libyan talks pause for consultations amid progress signs

RABAT, Morocco (AP) — The representatives of Libya's rival governments headed back to their home bases to consult on proposals to end the crisis in the country, which were made during three days of U.N.-sponsored talks in Morocco that ended Saturday.

Since overthrowing Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi with Western help in 2011, the country has fragmented into different warring militias and now has two rival governments — one in the east, the other in the west.

U.N. efforts to bring the sides together have been given extra urgency by the rise of groups allied to the radical Islamic State organization as well as a steady flow of African migrants setting sail to Europe from Libya's coast.

"The parties are determined to bridge their differences and have been working on concrete proposals," a U.N. statement on the talks said.

While this is the fourth round of these talks, it is the first time representatives from each of the rival parliaments are actively negotiating with each other and they have discussed the form of the national unity government and security arrangements to pull the militias out of the cities and airports.

While each delegation was still meeting separately with negotiators, U.N. envoy Bernardino Leon said the two sides had a symbolic face to face meeting Saturday.

Proposals will now be presented to the respective governments and the talks will reconvene by mid-week, U.N. spokesman Samir Ghattas said.

The parties will likely return to Morocco with suggestions for who should head the new government.

According to a U.S. diplomat familiar with the talks, the deteriorating security situation, including attacks on oil fields in the last few days has pushed the participants to reach a deal.

"We must make a deal. We must move on," the diplomat said on condition of anonymity because of a lack of authorization to speak to the media.