- Title: LIBYA-SECURITY/ALGERIA MEETING U.N., Algeria host Libya security meeting
- Date: 10th March 2015
- Summary: ALGIERS, ALGERIA (MARCH 10, 2015) (REUTERS) **** WARNING CONTAINS FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY **** EXTERIOR OF STATE RESIDENCY "DJENANE AL MITHAK" JOURNALISTS AND LEADERS INSIDE THE MEETING LOUNGE ALGERIAN, LIBYAN AND U.N. FLAGS ALGERIAN MINISTER FOR MAGHREB AND AFRICAN AFFAIRS ABDELKADER MESSAHEL AND UNITED NATIONS SPECIAL ENVOY FOR LIBYA, BERNARDINO LEON LEON VARIOUS OF THE MEETING (SOUNDBITE) (French) BERNARDINO LEON, UNITED NATIONS SPECIAL ENVOY FOR LIBYA, SAYING: "Libya has only two options - political agreement or the destruction. And we know well that destruction isn't an option, and I know that all the leaders who are here today want a united Libya, a democratic Libya, a consistent Libya with the principles of the February 17th revolution, a Libya that becomes a regional responsible actor, a Libya that fights against terrorism, and with these principles we are holding this meeting today." MORE OF MEETING MESSAHEL SPEAKING (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) ABDELKADER MESSAHEL, ALGERIAN MINISTER FOR MAGHREB AND AFRICAN AFFAIRS, SAYING: "We are sure that the solution for the Libyan crisis is in the hands of Libyans themselves, and it is our duty as brothers to help them find the solution that they should choose alone with all sovereignty." JOURNALISTS END OF MEETING/ PARTICIPANTS APPLAUDING
- Embargoed: 25th March 2015 12:00
- Location: Algeria
- Country: Algeria
- Topics: General
- Reuters ID: LVA7BMHM4YB6DFO24U5NCOPJH6CR
- Story Text: The United Nations and Algeria on Tuesday (March 10) hosted a meeting of Libyan leaders with the aim of bringing a political solution to the crisis in the country split between two rival governments.
The U.N. special envoy for a Libya, Bernardino Leon and Algeria's minister of African and Maghreb Affairs chaired the gathering that brought together Libyan party leaders and political activists.
The meeting in Algeria comes as Libya's elected parliament asked the United Nations to postpone the talks planned for Wednesday (March 11).
The U.N.-sponsored talks were intended to end a power struggle.
The talks will now be postponed for one week to allow more time for discussion of a proposal to form a national unity government.
"Libya has only two options - political agreement or the destruction. And we know well that destruction isn't an option, and I know that all the leaders who are here today want a united Libya, a democratic Libya, a consistent Libya with the principles of the February 17th revolution, a Libya that becomes a regional responsible actor, a Libya that fights against terrorism, and with these principles we are holding this meeting today," said Leon during the meeting in Algeria.
The meeting takes place against a backdrop of worsening violence in the divided country.
Last week, Islamist militants beheaded security guards and kidnapped foreign workers when they attacked the al-Ghani oilfield in central Libya.
The violence underlines the difficulties facing the U.N.-sponsored talks.
Libya's internationally recognized government has operated out of the east since a rival armed faction called Libya Dawn took over Tripoli in fighting last year and set up its own administration.
The rival governments are battling for control of Libya four years after Muammar Gaddafi was ousted.
The chaos has allowed Islamic State and Ansar al-Sharia militants to strengthen their foothold in Libya, an OPEC member.
"We are sure that the solution for the Libyan crisis is in the hands of Libyans themselves, and it is our duty as brothers to help them find the solution that they should choose alone with all sovereignty," said Abdelkader Messahel, Algeria's minister for Maghreb and African Affairs.
The U.N. has invited moderate leaders to join the talks, which have been going on since September. But analysts see little chance of success as the country is fracturing, with small armed groups increasingly calling the shots, as in the oilfield attack.
Both governments represent loose alliances of former rebel groups who helped topple Gaddafi but have since fallen out along political and regional lines.
Libya Dawn draws support form from western cities such as Misrata, and includes Islamists, the Amazigh minority, and business people.
In the east, an umbrella of tribes, federalists campaigning for autonomy, and military figures such as Khalifa Haftar, a former Gaddafi general, dominate the scene.
Both sides have been fighting each other on several fronts, creating a vacuum exploited by militants loyal to Islamic State, the group that has seized large parts of Syria and Iraq.
The militants have drawn support from Libyan jihadists who fought in Syria and returned to cities such as Derna or Sirte. While the Islamic State alliance seems to have split into small groups, it attracts fighters from other factions, such as Ansar al-Sharia, by conducting spectacular attacks.
A big problem for peace efforts is that neither the United Nations nor Western powers backing the talks have a presence in Libya -- they evacuated their Tripoli missions in the summer for security reasons.
Having relocated to Malta or Tunis, diplomats try to stay in contact with moderate Libyan figures by phone or when they travel abroad.
But with no team on the ground, U.N. envoy Leon often finds himself agreeing on something during a day trip to Tripoli or Tobruk only for hardliners to torpedo it the next day.
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