GENEVA (AP) — In signs of a possible breakthrough, newly appointed envoys from Libya's Islamist-backed government in Tripoli say they are optimistic about a possible deal toward creating a unity government — on condition that a draft accord is modified first.
The four-man delegation from the GNC party, which had shunned talks toward a deal for weeks, arrived in Geneva for U.N.-brokered discussions attended by all major factions about the future of a country now run by rival governments and facing a growing Islamic State presence amid violence, chaos and instability.
The expression of optimism by a new team of envoys marked a rare positive note in a divisive process that has dragged on for more than seven months under the watchful eye of world powers.
The U.N. special representative for Libya, Bernardino Leon, was mediating the latest round of talks that opened Thursday. Parties are to present their candidates for the prime minister and two deputies to lead a national unity government and get the war-torn country out of its crisis.
GNC envoy Abdurrahman Al Sewehli told a few reporters that "we are optimistic, that is why we are here," but said the delegation hasn't yet presented a list of proposed names for those posts.
He said the party's priority is to "work out the commitment to the draft agreement," and said he hoped for a deal "if we can resolve the issue of the amendments" — though he declined to identify the exact changes sought. GNC had previously rejected the draft accord.
The party is fresh off talks Wednesday with Leon in Istanbul. It had balked at attending an earlier round of multiparty talks in Morocco last month where the draft accord was struck because high-profile resignations required a new negotiating team.
Libya is currently divided between a government in Tripoli and the internationally recognized government in Tobruk to the east. Leon wants a deal in coming weeks, before the mandate of the House of Representatives in Tobruk expires Oct. 20.
Since the fall of Moammar Gadhafi in 2011, Libya has faced tribal warfare and general lawlessness that has led tens of thousands of migrants from across Africa to use the country as a springboard across the Mediterranean to Europe.