Libya unity bid gains momentum as rivals gear up for new talks

Tripoli: A setback-laden push to unify Libya enters a new stage Monday as the OPEC nation’s warring sides attend political talks that seek to chart a roadmap to elections and a unity government.

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The discussions in Tunisia come after military leaders from the Tripoli-based government and their eastern rivals agreed on a cease-fire and to work towards the withdrawal of foreign fighters and mercenaries in earlier meetings. The talks are among three tracks being spearheaded by the United Nations in a bid to end a nearly a decade of war that has ravaged the North African oil exporter.

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As the UN voices optimism over a lasting peace, a relative period of calm has allowed the state-run National Oil Corp. to lift force majeure and restart crude production nationwide. Output has now topped 1 million barrels per day.

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Earlier peace efforts have largely failed, with both sides accusing the other of violating cease-fires.

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The Tunisia gathering comes days after military talks in the Libyan city of Ghadames ended with a call to the UN to adopt a binding resolution to implement the cease-fire reached in October.

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