March 4, 2016 / 2:41 AM / a year ago

Kerry meets U.N. envoy for Libya, repeats support for unity government

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry testifies before a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the FY2017 State Department Budget Request on Capitol Hill in Washington, February 23, 2016.Yuri Gripas

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met on Thursday with Martin Kobler, the U.N. secretary-general's special representative for Libya, to discuss efforts to support a unified Libyan government, the State Department said.

Kerry said Washington would continue to support Prime Minister Fayez Seraj and the Government of National Accord ahead of a meeting in Tunis next week to discuss its establishment in the capital, Tripoli, the State Department said in a statement.

"He expressed his concern that, despite the ‎efforts of a majority of Libyan leaders to seat this government, a small group of spoilers prevented a formal vote that would have endorsed the Cabinet," the statement said.

Western diplomats have insisted the only option for uniting Libya and defeating militancy is a plan for a political transition negotiated by the United Nations and signed in December with limited Libyan support.

But they have looked on with growing exasperation as Libya's eastern House of Representatives rejected one proposed unity government and repeatedly failed to vote on a revised lineup.

"The country needs to move ahead now, or risk division and collapse," Kobler told the U.N. Security Council this week.  

Reporting by Eric Walsh; Additional reporting by Aidan Lewis in Tunis; Editing by Peter Cooney

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