Libya’s warring parties resume talks in Geneva


GENEVA (AP) — Libya’s warring parties have returned to negotiations aimed at salvaging a fragile cease-fire in the North African country after they had suspended talks earlier this week, a U.N. spokesman said Thursday.

United Nations spokesman Rheal Leblanc said the two sides have resumed meetings in Geneva after the Tripoli-based government stopped them on Tuesday following an attack on the capital’s strategic port by their rivals in the east.

The meetings are a part of a broader U.N. push for peace in Libya, which has been ravaged by years of civil war after its 2011 popular uprising that toppled longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi, who was later killed.

But fighting on the ground has threatened to stall peace efforts. The current truce was brokered by Russia and Turkey on Jan. 12. But both sides have repeatedly violated it.

And while their representatives were in Geneva, forces of military commander Khalifa Hifter stepped up their attacks on the Libyan capital on Tuesday with shelling of the port. The country’s National Oil Company said then that the strikes hit close to a highly explosive liquefied petroleum gas tanker moored there. Hifter’s forces said that they’d hit a depot for weapons and ammunition located there.

Tuesdays’ strikes appeared to be the first such attack on the port since Hifter’s forces began their siege of the city almost a year ago.

Oil-rich Libya is split between rival governments based in its east and west, each backed by an array of foreign countries apparently jockeying for influence in order to control Libya’s resources. The U.N.-supported government in Tripoli is backed by Turkey and Qatar. On the other side are the eastern-based forces of commander Hifter, which rely on military assistance from the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, as well as France and Russia.