‘Good progress’ but Libya ceasefire deal awaits Haftar signature

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Talks in Russia aimed at agreeing on an unconditional and open-ended ceasefire in Libya failed to achieve a breakthrough on Monday, but hopes of a deal remain alive as renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar asked for more time to make a decision.

The head of the UN-supported Government of National Accord (GNA), Fayez al-Sarraj, has already signed the draft ceasefire agreement.

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“They have a positive view of the document and asked for extra time until the next morning (Tuesday) to decide,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said of Haftar and his delegation, adding that “good progress” was being made.

“I hope they will make a positive decision. Russian and Turkish representatives will continue to offer their assistance.”

On Tuesday, the Eastern Libyan forces, which are under Haftar’s command and have been trying to seize the capital Tripoli, posted on their official Facebook page that they were “ready and determined” to achieve victory.

It provided no additional details, but another website linked to the force said Haftar would not sign the proposal. 

The talks in Moscow were aimed at formalising the ceasefire that started in Libya on Sunday.

Turkey and Russia, which back opposing sides in the conflict, urged the factions on Monday to sign a binding truce and pave the way for a peaceful settlement.

Al Jazeera’s Step Vaessen, reporting from Moscow, said it was crucial the truce was signed in Moscow first, before an international conference on Libya starts in the German capital, Berlin, later this week.

More than 280 civilians and about 2,000 fighters have been killed and 146,000 Libyans displaced since Haftar launched his assault to seize the capital Tripoli, according to the United Nations.

Turkey was working to ensure the truce became permanent, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.

Speaking alongside Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte in Ankara, Erdogan said he would attend a summit in Berlin on Sunday to discuss developments in Libya, along with Conte and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“I especially hope for the signing of a permanent ceasefire agreement sometime soon,” Erdogan told the news conference.

This handout picture released by the Russian Foreign Ministry on January 13, 2020 shows Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov welcoming Libya's military strongman Khalifa Haftar in Moscow. (Photo by

Haftar’s forces have so far failed to capture the capital Tripoli, where the UN-recognised government is based [Russia foreign ministry via AFP]

The Moscow talks were held a day after the ceasefire, brokered by Russia and Turkey, came into force. 

Haftar’s forces have so far failed to capture the capital Tripoli, where the UN-recognised GNA is based, after months of fierce fighting.

Meanwhile, Libyan academic told Al Jazeera it was unclear if the temporary ceasefire would hold. 

“The stickiest point is the condition of having Haftar’s forces withdraw from southern Tripoli. I do not see Haftar accepting this condition because that simply would mean defeat for him,” Feituri said.

“The other difficult point is the withdrawal of Haftar’s forces from Tarhuna, the main supply and control point for his forces. If he leaves this area, there will be infringement. So it is unlikely that he will leave that area.”

Libya has been racked by turmoil since longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi was toppled in a NATO-backed uprising in 2011.

The oil-rich country has since been split between two rival administrations based in the country’s east and west in a conflict that has drawn increasing involvement from foreign powers.

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