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Heads of Libya’s warring sides set to hold talks

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The Russian foreign ministry has said the heads of Libya’s two warring sides will hold talks in Moscow on Monday, according to Interfax news agency.

The announcement came after reports that Fayez al-Sarraj, the chief of the internationally-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) and his rival, renegade commander Khalifa Haftar, may sign a ceasefire agreement in the Russian capital.

Libya has been racked by turmoil since long-time leader Muammar Gaddafi was toppled in a Nato-backed uprising in 2011.

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The oil-rich country has since been split between rival administrations in the country’s east and the west amid a conflict drawing increasing involvement from foreign powers. Since April, the Tripoli-based GNA has been under attack from eastern forces loyal to Haftar, which on January 6 captured the strategic coastal city of Sirte.

Interfax cited a Russian official as saying that al-Sarraj and Haftar would discuss “the possibility of signing a truce and the details of such a document”.

Lev Dengov, the head of the Russian contact group on Libya, said it was still unclear whether the two rivals would meet face to face.

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Earlier, Khaled al-Mechri, head of Libya’s High Council of State, said the signing of the agreement in Moscow would pave the way for the revival of the political process in the country.

Al-Mechri told Al Ahrar TV that he would accompany al- Sarraj to Moscow, while Aguila Salah, the speaker of the eastern-based parliament, would travel with Haftar.

Meanwhile, in a short televised speech on Monday, al- Sarraj called on Libyans to “turn the page on the past”.

“I call on all Libyans to turn the page on the past, reject discord and to close ranks to move towards stability and peace,” he said.

The GNA and Haftar’s LNA agreed to a conditional truce that was supposed to come into force at midnight local time on Sunday (22:01 GMT on Saturday), but both sides have accused the other of violations.—Al Jazeera

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