Rus­sia, Turkey host talks on pro­pos­als for cease­fire

San Francisco Chronicle - - WORLD - By Vladimir Isachenkov Vladimir Isachenkov is an As­so­ci­ated Press writer.

MOSCOW — Talks in Moscow about bring­ing an end to Libya’s lon­grun­ning civil war were ad­journed for the night Mon­day af­ter the coun­try’s ri­val gov­ern­ments con­sid­ered cease­fire pro­pos­als from Rus­sia and Turkey.

Fayez Sar­raj, head of Libya’s U.N.­rec­og­nized gov­ern­ment in Tripoli, and his ri­val, Khal­ifa Hifter, met with top diplo­mats and mil­i­tary of­fi­cials from Rus­sia and Turkey for the talks that lasted about seven hours. The ne­go­ti­a­tions were held be­hind closed doors, and Sar­raj and Hifter didn’t meet di­rectly. A ten­ta­tive truce came into force on Sun­day.

Rus­sian For­eign Min­is­ter Sergey Lavrov and his Turk­ish coun­ter­part, Mev­lut Cavu­soglu, said that Sar­raj signed the draft agree­ment, but that Hifter re­quested more time to con­sider it.

“They have a pos­i­tive view of the doc­u­ment and asked for ex­tra time un­til the next morn­ing to de­cide,” Lavrov said of Hifter and his del­e­ga­tion. “I hope they will make a pos­i­tive de­ci­sion. Rus­sian and Turk­ish rep­re­sen­ta­tives will con­tinue to of­fer their as­sis­tance.”

The truce marks the first break in fighting in months. There were im­me­di­ate re­ports of vi­o­la­tions by both sides, how­ever, rais­ing con­cerns it might not hold.

The civil war had been on the brink of a ma­jor es­ca­la­tion. Var­i­ous for­eign play­ers back Libya’s ri­val gov­ern­ments, and they have re­cently been step­ping up their in­volve­ment in the oil­rich na­tion’s con­flict.

Libya plunged into tur­moil af­ter the 2011 civil war that ousted and killed long­time dic­ta­tor Moam­mar Khadafy.

The east­ern gov­ern­ment is sup­ported by France, Rus­sia and key Arab coun­tries, in­clud­ing Egypt, the United Arab Emi­rates and Saudi Ara­bia. Turkey, Italy and Qatar sup­port the Tripoli gov­ern­ment. It has faced an of­fen­sive by Hifter’s forces, which have closed in on the cap­i­tal.

Rus­sia has main­tained con­tacts with both con­flict­ing par­ties in Libya, but the gov­ern­ment in Tripoli has re­cently charged that Rus­sian mil­i­tary con­trac­tors were fighting along­side Hifter.

Asked Satur­day about Rus­sian pri­vate se­cu­rity com­pa­nies in Libya, Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin re­sponded that “if there are Rus­sian cit­i­zens there, they do not rep­re­sent the in­ter­ests of the Rus­sian state and do not re­ceive any money from the Rus­sian state.”

Putin noted that mer­ce­nar­ies were sent to Libya from Syria’s re­bel­held prov­ince of Idlib, voic­ing hope that a last­ing truce will help end the de­ploy­ment of for­eign fight­ers to Libya.

Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan said ear­lier this month that his coun­try was send­ing mil­i­tary per­son­nel to Libya to sup­port Sar­raj’s gov­ern­ment.

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