Libya’s unity government late on Tuesday announced that it would halt its participation in UN talks aimed at brokering a lasting ceasefire in the war-torn country, where a fragile truce has been repeatedly broken.
The pullout came after a barrage of rocket fire hit the port in the capital Tripoli — the target of a months-long operation by eastern military commander Khalifa Haftar to oust the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA).
“We are announcing the suspension of our participation in the military talks taking place in Geneva [Switzerland] until firm positions are adopted against the aggressor [Haftar] and his violations” of the truce, the GNA said in a news release. “Without a lasting ceasefire ... negotiations make no sense. There can be no peace under the bombing.”
The port strikes were the latest contraventions of a tenuous truce that came into effect last month, brokered by Russia, which backs Haftar, and Turkey, which supports the UN-recognized government in Tripoli.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.
“It is clear the objective of the systematic bombardments of the residential areas, the airport and the port, in addition to the total blockage of the oil installations, is to provoke crises for the citizens in all the aspects of their life,” the GNA statement said.
It added that Haftar’s forces were “trying in vain” to destabilize the state, having failed to seize power.
UN Support Mission in Libya head Ghassan Salame on Tuesday launched the second round of talks in the latest international effort to end fighting between the warring sides, with five senior officers from the GNA and five appointed by Haftar’s Libyan National Army taking part.
A first round of the talks ended with no result earlier this month, but Salame said that there was “more hope” this time, mainly because of the approval of a UN Security Council resolution calling for a “lasting ceasefire.”
Haftar in April last year launched his offensive on Tripoli, but after rapid advances his forces stalled on the edges of the capital.
The fighting has left more than 1,000 people dead and displaced about 140,000, the UN has reported.
Further talks were planned to start in Geneva on Wednesday next week on finding a solution.
Last month, world leaders agreed at a Berlin summit to end all meddling in the conflict and stop the flow of weapons, but little has changed on the ground since then.
EU foreign ministers on Monday agreed to launch a naval mission to Libya to enforce an arms embargo, which the UN has said was being broken by air, land and sea.
The naval operation would be authorized to intervene to stop weapons shipments to Libya.
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