January 8, 2015 / 6:39 PM / 3 years ago

U.N. envoy meets representatives of Libya factions: officials

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - The United Nations envoy to Libya on Thursday held talks with factions in the country's conflict, including with a former army general carrying out a campaign against Islamist militants, Libyan officials said.

Three years on from the fall of Muammar Gaddafi, two rival governments are competing for control of the country, after a group called Libya Dawn drove the internationally recognized government out of Tripoli, forcing it to operate out of the east.

U.N. representative Bernadino Leon has struggled to bring the warring factions to the negotiating table, and a new round of talks set for this week has been postponed due to disagreements about details for the meetings.

On Thursday, Leon met representatives of the elected parliament in the city of Tobruk and also with former army general Khalifa Haftar, who is allied with the internationally recognized government of Prime Minister Abdullah Thinni, Libyan officials said.

"The UN special envoy to Libya Leon met the leader of Operation Dignity and myself," commander of Hafter's air force Saqet Joroushi told Reuters, referring to Haftar's command.

A member of the House of Representatives said Leon had also met with the elected parliament's talks committee at Tobruk Air Force base.

The United Nations did not confirm the meetings or give any immediate statement.

The Libyan officials provided few details on whether the consultations discussed a date for future talks.

Western powers fear the Libyan conflict will slide into civil war as former rebel groups who once helped oust Gaddafi in 2011 turn against each other in a battle for power and a share of the OPEC country's vast oil reserves.

Fighting between rival factions has spread to attempts to control key oil ports, cutting off some of Libya's oil shipments. A warplane from Haftar's forces this week bombed a Greek-operated oil tanker anchored off the coast, killing two crewmen.

Reporting by Tripoli staff and Ayman al-Warfalli in Benghazi; Writing by Patrick Markey; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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