CAIRO (Reuters) - The United Nations plans to host on Monday in Morocco a new round of talks among Libya’s warring factions in an effort to end a conflict that threatens to break up the oil producer.
The internationally recognized government has had to operate out of the East of the north African oil state since an armed alliance known as Libya Dawn took over the capital Tripoli and set up its own self-declared government last year.
Western officials say the U.N. talks are the only hope of forming a unity government and halting the fighting among factions allied to either government.
Previous rounds have yielded little progress with the two governments and parliaments arguing for months over an agreement to form a unity government, but the U.N. said this round would be “decisive”.
“The mission has received thousands of messages from Libyans gravely concerned about the deteriorating conditions in their country, demanding the swift resumption of the dialogue talks and expressing hope that the Libyan political actors would seize the opportunity,” the U.N. mission for Libya said in a statement.
“The meeting in Skhirat (Morocco) will discuss a new draft of the political agreement based on the latest input of the parties,” the U.N. said on its website.
Egypt, which is worried about Islamic State expanding in the oil producer, said it was backing a political solution but warned the international community should “stop wasting time” getting support for the official government.
“We can’t wait for the political solution even though we all back and recommend it. We don’t back a military option but we cannot postpone fighting terrorism,” Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri said after meeting officials from Italy and Algeria in Cairo on Sunday to discuss Libya.
“Terrorism and other challenges faced by the Libyan people cannot wait for results that we cannot push for,” he said. “We cannot waste any more time and give space to those working against the Libyan people, those who spread terrorism and fighting.”
The Tripoli government says Egypt has been arming the eastern government which cannot buy weapons legally as the country is still under an arms embargo going back to the 2011 uprising. Cairo denies this.
Forces loyal to the eastern government have been fighting Islamic fighters in the eastern city of Benghazi for a year but have been unable to control the entire city. Last week, the eastern army said it was short of ammunition.
Writing by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Cynthia Osterman