U.N. says Libya sides agree to truce talks

FILE PHOTO: Martin Kobler (R), a Special Representative and Head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) attends a meeting of Libya's neighbouring countries in Algiers, Algeria May 8, 2017. REUTERS/Ramzi Boudina/File Photo

TUNIS (Reuters) - Libya’s warring parties have agreed to restart ceasefire talks, the United Nations mission to the country said late on Monday after weeks of intense fighting near the capital Tripoli fuelled by foreign arms.

In a statement posted online, the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) said it welcomed their plan to resume talks based on earlier so-called 5+5 meetings, involving five senior officers appointed by each side.

The eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA) of Khalifa Haftar has been waging an offensive since April 2019 to seize the capital Tripoli, seat of the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA).

In recent weeks the GNA, supported by Turkey, has driven the LNA out of several areas of the northwest and much of its foothold in the capital. However, the LNA, backed by the United Arab Emirates, Russia and Egypt, said it retook some ground on Monday.

Two ceasefires have already been agreed this year but both shelling and fighting continued. U.N. envoy Ghassan Salame resigned in March and the Security Council has yet to agree on a successor, further complicating peacemaking efforts.

Foreign intervention in Libya has raised the stakes in the fighting with a flow of ever more powerful weapons. Last week the United States said Russia had flown at least 14 fighter jets to an LNA air base in central Libya.

Reporting By Angus McDowall; editing by Philippa Fletcher