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Libyan PM Serraj Refuses to Talk With Rival Haftar

Libya’s internationally recognized Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj is seen during an interview with Reuters at his office in Tripoli, Libya, June 16, 2019.

Libya's internationally-recognized prime minister says he is refusing to hold talks with his rival for power.

"I will not sit down again with this person because of what he has done in past years shows he won’t be a partner in the political process," Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj told Reuters.

Armies loyal to al-Serraj and General Khalifa Haftar have been fighting on the outskirts of Tripoli for control of the capital, sending thousands of civilians fleeing for their lives or seeking shelter inside the city.

Al-Serraj said the last time met with Haftar in February only served as an excuse for Haftar to "buy time" so he could send his planes to bomb Tripoli.

"Our primary military goal is to defend Tripoli," al-Serraj said, promising there will be "positive news...progress" in the next few days. He gave no details and there has been no reaction from Haftar's office.

Al-Serraj and Haftar, who leads a rival government in southern Libya, are jockeying for power in a country that has seen widespread chaos and upheaval since longtime authoritarian leader Moammar Gadhafi was toppled and killed in 2011.

The fight for political supremacy and control of the country's oil wealth has allowed armed militias and extremists such as Islamic State to become more entrenched in Libya.