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Libyan Rival Forces Resume Talks       02/18 06:17

   GENEVA (AP) -- Libya's warring sides resumed Tuesday U.N.-brokered talks 
aimed at salvaging a fragile cease-fire in the North African country, the U.N. 
said in Geneva.

   The current cease-fire was brokered by Russia and Turkey on Jan. 12. It 
marked the first break in months of fighting for control of the Libyan capital, 
Tripoli. But both sides have repeatedly violated the cease-fire.

   Oil-rich Libya is split between rival governments, each backed by an array 
of foreign countries apparently jockeying for influence in order to control 
Libya's resources.

   A U.N.-supported but weak administration, led by Prime Minister Fayez 
Sarraj, holds only a shrinking area of western Libya, including the capital. 
It's been fending off an offensive since last April by forces loyal to Gen. 
Khalifa Hifter. The military commander is allied with a rival government that 
controls much of Libya's east and south, including key oil fields and export 
terminals.

   The U.N. support mission in Libya said five military representatives from 
each side have met Tuesday in Geneva, more than a week after they ended their 
first round of negotiations without striking a deal that would help end the 
fighting in Tripoli.

   In the previous round of talks, the U.N. mission said there was "broad 
consensus" between the two sides on "the urgency for Libyans to safeguard the 
sovereignty and territorial integrity" of the country, and to "stop the flow of 
non-Libyan fighters and send them out of the country."

   Hifter's forces rely on military assistance from the United Arab Emirates 
and Egypt, as well as France and Russia. On the other side, Turkey, Italy and 
Qatar support the embattled Tripoli-based government.

   Powerful tribes loyal to the eastern the commander Hifter have also largely 
stopped the country's oil production, after they seized last month several 
large oil export terminals along Libya's eastern coast as well as its southern 
oil fields.

   The country's National Oil Corporation, which dominates Libya's critical oil 
industry and is based in Tripoli, said losses from the oil closures have 
reached more than $1.6 billion as of Monday.

   The daily oil production has since the closure fallen to 135,745 barrels a 
day from about 1.2 million. It put the daily losses at close to $59 million.

   Libya has the ninth largest known oil reserves in the world and the biggest 
oil reserves in Africa.

   The corporation reiterated its warning that the blockade is quickly 
depleting fuel that supplies Libyan power stations.

   The Geneva talks come amid intensified diplomacy among world powers seeking 
to end the conflict that has ravaged Libya for nine years and increasingly 
drawn in foreign powers.

   European Union foreign ministers agreed Monday to launch a new maritime 
effort focused on enforcing the U.N arms embargo around the North African 
country.

   Libya has been in turmoil since 2011, when a civil war toppled long-time 
dictator Moammar Gadhafi, who was later killed.


(KR)

 
 
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