The United Nations envoy for Libya said Thursday that he thought a peace deal between warring factions in the country was possible.
After the first day of a new round of peace talks in Morocco, Bernardino Leon told reporters, "There is a sense of, if it's not optimism, at least a sense that it is possible to make a deal. And that is something very important, because in the last months, this was not the case."
Leon and U.N. mediators met separately with delegates from the Libyan government and with Islamic extremists who have taken over the capital, Tripoli, and set up a separate administration. In three previous rounds of talks, the two sides did not meet face to face.
U.N. officials hope to get the two rival governments talking to each other.
Libya has been increasingly unstable since longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi was overthrown and killed in 2011. Fighting escalated in August when the elected government and parliament were forced to locate outside Tripoli.
Libya's lucrative oil facilities have been a prize for both sides. The state-run oil company, citing security problems, stopped production at 11 oil fields after the militants seized two major fields this week.