Libya Rivals Announce Will Not Take Part in Geneva Talks


Libya's rival camps announced Monday they had suspended their participation in U.N.-sponsored peace talks this week in Geneva, although a United Nations spokesman said negotiations would still go ahead.

A parliament based in eastern Libya, backed by strongman Khalifa Haftar, said it would not take part because the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) had not approved all its 13 representatives.

A rival authority in Tripoli, the High State Council -- the equivalent of a senate -- said it would also not participate in talks scheduled for Wednesday until progress was made in military negotiations.

"It is in light of conclusions (from military discussions) that the high council would decide to take part or not in political dialogue," the Tripoli body said.

Haftar's forces launched an offensive against Tripoli, seat of the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA), last April. 

Stalemate around the capital's southern suburbs has persisted for months since then.

A joint military commission with five members from each said wound up talks Sunday in Geneva with a "draft ceasefire agreement" to be finalized in March, according to the U.N. mission.

A spokesman for UNSMIL said Monday that the political dialogue would still take place.

"The Libyan political dialogue will go ahead as previously scheduled, on 26 February," Jean El Alam told AFP.

"Many participants have already arrived in Geneva and we hope all invited participants follow suit," he said.

But Khaled el-Mechri of the GNA-aligned High State Council said it would not be bound by the outcome of political talks if they went ahead "before knowing the military dialogue's conclusions."

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