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Libya Unity Talks End With Vow to Make Deal

FILE - An image taken from aerial footage shows a target hit by an airstrike in Libya.
FILE - An image taken from aerial footage shows a target hit by an airstrike in Libya.

Peace talks between Libya's warring factions ended Wednesday in Geneva without resolution, but a United Nations envoy said the parties are determined to reach an accord on a unity government within three weeks.

As the negotiations broke up, U.N. special envoy Bernardino Leon said the two groups, each with a claim to controlling part of war-wracked Libya, "noted the need for urgent progress on the security track of the dialog process, in parallel to the progress being made on the political front."

He said the two factions "underscored their determination" to complete the negotiations "within the coming three weeks."

Libya is split between two governments supported by armed troops fighting each other. The internationally recognized government is based in the eastern city of Tobruk, while an Islamist-backed government rules from the capital, Tripoli.

The prime minister of the Tobruk government said Tuesday he would resign if demanded by the people. Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni faced sharp criticism in a televised interview with questions from viewers blaming the government for a lack of services, and said he would step down Sunday if that was the solution the public wants. A government spokesman said Thinni's comments were not an official resignation.

U.N. envoy Leon said the participation of all members of the warring factions represents a good sign that an accord can be reached. He is urging them to vote to endorse a pact by early September.

"What Libya is facing now is deeper chaos and division of the country," Leon said. "So I hope all the Libyan actors will be wise to avoid this scenario, to expedite the talks and to reach an agreement very soon. I think it is extremely risky to reach October without an agreement because we will be in a more chaotic situation."

Last month, Libya's political leaders signed a U.N.-brokered power-sharing deal, but the Tripoli government refused to participate. Leon said he will build on that signing by focusing on persuading the holdouts to agree to the unity government.

Libya has been in political turmoil since longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi was overthrown and killed in 2011.

Islamists took over Tripoli last year, setting up their own leadership and parliament and forcing the internationally recognized government to flee to the east.

The Islamic State group also has seized territory and has added to the chaos in Libya.

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