Libyan rivals hold "positive" talks in Abu Dhabi

There was no official statement as the meeting between Khalifa Haftar and Fayez Seraj ended, but the sources close to Haftar said he met Seraj one-on-one for two hours of talks they described as positive.

Photo by: (AFP)
Photo by: (AFP)

Libya's UN-backed Prime Minister-designate, Fayez al-Sarraj (2ndR), meets with members of the presidential council on March 31, 2016 in the Libya's capital Tripoli. [FILE PHOTO]

East Libyan military commander Khalifa Haftar met the head of Libya’s UN-backed government Fayez Seraj in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday for talks that sources close to Haftar said were positive.

Regional and Western powers have for months been pushing the two men to discuss resetting a UN-mediated agreement that led to the creation of Seraj's Government of National Accord (GNA) in the capital Tripoli. The deal was an attempt to end the turmoil that followed the 2011 uprising against former leader Muammar Gaddafi, who was killed in that uprising.

Haftar, the dominant figure for factions in eastern Libya, reversed a previous refusal to engage with the GNA, which is largely rejected in his region.

Rival armed factions in the west of the country, on the other hand, have backed the GNA.

One sticking point that has divided the two sides has been a clause in the UN-mediated deal giving the GNA control over the military, which eastern factions fear will weaken the self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) that Haftar commands.

Libya's 218 channel, a pro-Haftar TV station, said he and Seraj had agreed to propose cancelling the clause, and to form a restructured unity government.

"It was agreed to open permanent channels of communication and to form two working groups to complete an agreement on the details of the formation of a government and the military arrangements between officers from all regions," one source in Abu Dhabi who asked not to be named told Reuters.

There was also an agreement to hold presidential and parliamentary elections no later than March 2018, the source said. There was no immediate comment from the GNA.

It was the first time Seraj and Haftar had met since the start of last year.

TRTWorld, Reuters