UN welcomes commitments toward Libya peace, urges cease-fire

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UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. Security Council on Tuesday welcomed the commitment by world powers and other key countries to support a plan to restore peace in Libya and urged the warring parties to quickly conclude a cease-fire agreement.

The U.N.’s most powerful body issued a statement after a closed-door briefing by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. He told reporters afterward that it is critical to move from the current truce that has had some violations to a cease-fire accord and then to “a real political process.”

He said a “major step” was taken Sunday by leaders of 12 countries in agreeing at a meeting in Berlin to a 55-point final document plus operational plans. It commits them not to interfere in Libya’s civil war, to support a cease-fire, to honor a widely broken U.N. arms embargo, and to support a U.N.-facilitated political process, he said.

Civil war in Libya in 2011 toppled longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi, who was later killed. In the chaos that followed, the country was divided, with a weak U.N.-supported administration in the capital of Tripoli overseeing the country's west and a rival government in the east aligned with the self-styled Libyan National Army led by Gen. Khalifa Hifter, each supported by an array of militias.

Hifter launched a surprise military offensive last April 4 aimed at capturing Tripoli despite commitments to attend a national conference weeks later aimed at forming a united government and moving toward elections.

Libya's east-based government is backed by the United Arab Emirates and Egypt as well as France and Russia. The Tripoli-based government led by Fayez Sarraj receives aid from Turkey, Qatar and Italy.

Guterres said his message to Hifter and Sarraj is to “accept fully the conclusions of the Berlin summit" and assume that the leadershio is seeking peace and a united Libya that will cooperate with its neighbors.

Hifter and Sarraj were present in Berlin but did not attend the summit and did not talk to each other.

Guterres noted that one party — Hifter — has not publicly supported the final document, even though he is participating in follow-up work that has already started on the economic track.

The secretary-general said follow-up work will continue quickly with the meeting of a military commission with five members from each side on a cease-fire.

The Security Council urged the parties “to engage constructively” in the commission “in order to conclude a cease-fire agreement as soon as possible.”

It also supported efforts by U.N. envoy for Libya Ghassan Salame “to bring about a lasting cease-fire and a Libyan-owned, Libyan-led political solution in Libya.”

Vietnamese Ambassador Dang Dinh Quy, the current council president who read the statement, said members will talk about a legally binding Security Council resolution to follow up on the conclusions of the Berlin conference “in the coming days.”

Guterres stressed that “this is just the beginning” of a long process, and needs pressure from the international community on the warring parties.

“I do believe that the endorsement of these conclusions by the Security Council and other steps in the follow-up could be extremely important,” he said.

The Berlin summit participants were from Algeria, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Turkey, Republic of Congo, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and United States plus representatives of the United Nations, African Union, European Union and Arab League.

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