Rival Libyan Politicians Meet for Talks

GENEVA (AP) -- Rival Libyan politicians met on Wednesday for U.N.-sponsored political talks in Geneva aimed at ending the latest round of fighting over the country's capital, Tripoli.

The resumption of political negotiations, one of three ongoing U.N.-mediated diplomatic tracks, followed an agreement this week between military officials to formalize a shaky cease-fire around Tripoli.

The declared cease-fire deal, now under review by Libya's competing leaders, addresses the return of thousands of displaced civilians to Tripoli. But it makes no mention of key points of contention, such as the withdrawal of eastern-based forces or the demobilization of formidable militias loosely allied with the U.N.-supported Tripoli government.

Peace negotiations have made halting progress over past weeks, as low-intensity clashes continue around Tripoli and weapons flow into the war-torn country despite world powers' pledges to the contrary at a peace summit in Berlin last month.

The commander of the eastern forces, Khalifa Hifter, and his followers, who control the country's east and south, launched an offensive to capture Tripoli last April. The fighting has displaced more than 150,000 people and killed hundreds of civilians.

Hifter receives extensive support from Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, as well as Russia and France. The embattled Tripoli government has increasingly relied on Turkey to supply military aid, including air defenses and fighters deployed from nearby Syria, to repel Hifter's advances.

(KR)