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Libya rivals agree return to ceasefire talks: UN

Following initial advances on Tripoli, eastern commander Khalifa Haftar has suffered a string of defeats in recent weeks
Haftar is supported by neighbouring Egypt, as well as the United Arab Emirates and Russia (Reuters)

The United Nations' Libya mission said on Tuesday that the country's warring parties had agreed to restart talks aimed at reaching a lasting ceasefire, after a three-month suspension.

In a statement, UNSMIL "welcomed" moves by the Government of National Accord (GNA) and forces backing eastern-based military commander Khalifa Haftar to accept "restarting negotiations on a ceasefire and the related security arrangements".

Pro-Haftar forces have been battling since April last year to seize the capital Tripoli from the UN-recognised GNA, in fighting that has left hundreds dead and forced 200,000 to flee their homes.

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A military commission made up of five GNA loyalists and five Haftar delegates held talks in February, but the dialogue was suspended.

A January truce brokered by GNA backer Turkey and key Haftar ally Russia has been repeatedly violated.

Neither side immediately commented on the UN statement, AFP reported.

Haftar's rapid advance on Tripoli last year stalled to a bloody stalemate on the edges of the capital.

In recent weeks, GNA forces buoyed by Turkish drones and air defence systems have taken back a string of coastal towns and a key airbase.

Haftar is supported by neighbouring Egypt, as well as the United Arab Emirates and Russia.

The UN mission urged "states backing either of the belligerents to respect what was agreed at the Berlin conference" in late January, where world leaders committed to ending all foreign meddling in Libya and to uphold a much-violated arms embargo.

UNSMIL also voiced hopes that the resumption of talks by the joint military commission would be "the start of a truce on the ground and a humanitarian truce to provide the opportunity to reach a final ceasefire deal".