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UN to Try Again for Libya Peace Talks


A member of the Libyan pro-government forces, backed by locals, stands near a tank in Benghazi, Libya, Jan. 21, 2015.

A new round of talks between rival Libyan factions is planned in Geneva, even as gunmen kidnapped the deputy foreign minister of the internationally recognized government of Libya.

In a new push, the U.N. mission in Libya says two rounds of talks will take place this week in Switzerland. A delegation from the internationally recognized government of Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thani attended a first round of talks two weeks ago, but major representatives of the rival Libya Dawn group failed to attend.

That group seized Tripoli last year, pushing Prime Minister al-Thani to set up government in the east.

On Sunday, gunmen kidnapped Libyan Deputy Foreign Minister Hassan al-Saghir from his hotel room in the eastern city of al-Baida. A ministry official said the kidnappers told staff they were members of the security forces when they entered the hotel before dawn. No group has immediately claimed responsibility for his abduction.

Nearly four years after a revolt ousted long-time leader Moammar Gadhafi, Libya continues to be in turmoil.

Meanwhile, a Libyan Islamist militant group implicated by the United States in the 2012 killing of the U.S. envoy to Libya confirmed the death of its leader. The announcement by Ansar al-Sharia on Saturday comes months after reports surfaced that Mohamed al-Zahawi was killed in fighting in eastern Libya. The time and circumstances regarding his death remain unclear.

Washington believes Ansar al-Sharia was behind the September 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

Ansar al-Sharia is one of several factions fighting the Libyan military for wealth and control in Libya.