By Peter Kenny
GENEVA (AA) - A joint military commission representing Libya's UN-recognized government and renegade commander Khalifa Haftar’s forces began a second round of talks in Geneva on Tuesday.
Addressing a news conference, UN’s special Libya envoy Ghassan Salame confirmed the development and said hopes were high for “some kind of consensus”.
“We hope … to come to some kind of consensus about what a lasting cease-fire could look like in Libya," he said, "The situation on ground is … [that] the truce is very fragile.”
He said the truce “is often violated” and new attacks continue “even today in the very port of Tripoli".
The military talks commenced with the two sides in different rooms but Salame said he would “not rule out” the possibility of face-to-face dialogue.
The UN official, however, asserted that an actual solution to the problem was more important than a “photo op”.
He also spoke about some positive developments on the issue. "A few things happened that give us more hope for a gradual return to a more acceptable state of affairs in Libya," said Salame.
He said the UN Security Council’s resolution after the first round of military talks in Geneva earlier this month gave January’s Berlin conference on Libya “a stamp of legitimacy that was needed".
Salame added that the EU’s "consideration to think of helping to enforce the arms embargo" was also a cause for optimism.
"There are reasons to be hopeful because Libyans do want an end to this tragedy," he said.
The UN official said hopes were also high for successful political dialogue in Geneva on Feb. 26 to supplement the military and economic tracks of the three-pronged Libya peace process.
On Jan. 12, Libya's conflicting parties announced a truce in response to a joint call by Turkish and Russian leaders. However, talks in Russia for a permanent cease-fire ended without an agreement after Haftar left Moscow without signing the deal.
At the Berlin conference on Jan. 19, the head of the UN-recognized government and Haftar were asked "to extend the truce … to give a chance for diplomacy".
The conference was attended by representatives of the U.S., Turkey, Russia, the U.K., UN, Algeria, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Italy, the Republic of the Congo, United Arab Emirates, the African Union, the European Union, and the League of Arab States.
Under the agreement reached in Berlin, all signatories committed to not interfere in Libya's civil war, support a cease-fire, honor the arms embargo, and support the UN-facilitated political process.
Since the ouster of late ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, two seats of power have emerged in Libya: Haftar in eastern Libya supported mainly by Egypt and the UAE, and the Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli, which enjoys the UN and international recognition.
Libya's legitimate government has been under attack by Haftar’s forces since last April, and more than 1,000 people have been killed in the violence.