UN hails Libya peace talks in Berlin as "positive"

Published June 11th, 2015 - 06:00 GMT

The first ever face-to-face talks between rival Libyan factions, held in Berlin on Wednesday, have been positive, the UN special envoy to Libya said.

“From all sides, all cities there is a very strong call… We want to celebrate Ramadan in peace,” Bernardino Leon said at a joint press conference with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

"The Libyans have been working together, discussing, interacting. This has not been possible before."

The talks are aimed at establishing a united national government in the conflict-ravaged nation that currently has two competing administrations with their own military capacity.

Representatives from the Tobruk-based House of Representatives and the General National Congress, centered in Tripoli, have been joined in the German capital by Misrata-based political groups and independent factions.

Leon said a fourth draft on establishing a unity government had been received positively and described the talks as encouraging.

“Encouraging means that the general opinion of the representatives, and also other people who are not here but are important and influential, has been that this proposal might be acceptable,” he told journalists.

He added: “In both camps there are hardliners… But what is important is that the door is still open.”

The envoy hoped for an agreement next week but said the goal of achieving an agreement before Ramadan begins on June 18 was not “a sacred goal”.

Despite this, Leon urged timely progress amid the growing threat posed by Daesh, which has overrun parts of the central city of Sirte.

“There are many threats, many negative forces operate against an agreement,” he said.

Steinmeier said failure to reach an agreement would benefit extremist groups.

“This proposal constitutes an opportunity,” he warned. “But there will not be many opportunities to follow. It might be the last and only one to prevent Libya from crumbling.”

Libya has been in turmoil since Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown four years ago.

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