Libya War: Haftar delays signing ceasefire at Moscow talks, asks for a bit more time to study it

General Khalifa Haftar
Moscow (AFP) - Libya's eastern strongman General Khalifa Haftar delayed signing a ceasefire agreement on Monday at talks in Moscow, but Russia's government said it was hopeful the country's warring rivals would soon conclude the deal to end nine months of fighting.

Talks on the terms of a ceasefire between Haftar's forces and the UN-recognised government headed by Fayez al-Sarraj went on for seven hours without the two delegations actually meeting, though Moscow noted "certain progress".

Sarraj's Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli has been under attack since last April from forces loyal to Haftar, who is based in the east of the country along with his loyalist politicians.

The two sides were expected to agree the terms of a ceasefire that took effect over the weekend, raising hopes of an end to the latest fighting to wrack the oil-rich North African country since a 2011 NATO-backed uprising killed longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Sarraj and the head of High Council of State in Tripoli, Khaled al-Mechri, have signed the document, but Haftar and his ally Aguila Saleh "have asked for a bit more time until morning" to study it.

Turkey and Russia's foreign and defence ministers acted as mediators, but the rival delegations did not apparently meet face-to-face.

"We have refused any meeting with Haftar," al-Mechri was quoted as saying by Libya al-Ahrar television channel.

The ceasefire initiative was launched by President Vladimir Putin and Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who jointly called for a truce in Istanbul last week.

A fragile ceasefire went into effect from midnight Sunday, but Erdogan on Monday reiterated the "urgent necessity" for a permanent agreement after meeting with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Putin on Saturday and he supported her drive to hold a peace conference sponsored by the United Nations. Berlin said Monday the summit was planned for later this month. Continue reading

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