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UN Resumes Libyan Consultations Without Recognized Parliament

Bernardino Leon, right, the U.N. special envoy for a Libya, addresses Libyan political leaders and rivals in Algiers Tuesday. At left is Algeria's Minister of African and Maghreb Affairs, Abdelkader Messahel, March 10, 2015.

The United Nations opened a new round of consultations with Libyan politicians on Friday on ending the country's crisis, but the internationally recognized Libyan parliament was absent after seeking a delay.

Western leaders support the U.N. talks as the only way to end the turmoil in Libya, where two rival governments and armed factions are battling for control and Islamist militants have gained ground in the chaos.

The goal is to achieve a unity government and a lasting cease-fire and put Libya's democratic transition back on track. But both factions face internal splits over the negotiations.

In the meantime, fighting continues between forces of the recognized government based in eastern Libya and the rival administration of an armed group that seized control of the capital Tripoli last August.

"U.N envoy Bernardino Leon has started discussions with delegates present here in Skhirat," a spokesman for the U.N. Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) told journalists.

Only delegates from the Tripoli-based parliament and independents were present, he said. The recognized government said it needed another week to prepare for the meeting.

The session was the second round of UNSMIL-sponsored consultation in the Moroccan coastal town of Skhirat, after three other rounds in Geneva and elsewhere.