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Tuesday, 23 August, 2011, 3:37 ( 1:37 GMT )
UN Special Envoy in Tunisia for Libya Talks with Warring Sides
15/08/2011 17:25:00
United Nations special envoy to Libya Abdul Elah al-Khatib, in Tunisia to discuss Libya conflict

United Nations special envoy to Libya, Abdel Elah al-Khatib searching for a way to end the six-month long conflict in Libya, Monday arrived in neighbouring Tunisia for talks, the Tunisian Foreign Ministry has said.

The Tunisian ministry's spokesman said in a statement: "Ban Ki-moon's envoy for Libya, (Abdel Elah) al-Khatib has arrived in Tunisia.Tomorrow he will meet the (Tunisian) foreign minister and after that we don't know but certainly he will meet the Libyan parties."

Khatib, a former Jordanian foreign minister, was appointed as U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's special envoy in March. Since then, he has spent months shuttling between Tripoli and the rebel base at Benghazi trying to start ceasefire talks between the Libyan government and the the rebels' governing council, the NTC.

He has met on several occasions with representatives of both warring parties in a bid to find a solution for ending the conflict. Thus far, he has been unable to persuade the sides to adopt his ceasefire plan.

He has been reported saying that during this visit, negotiations on Libya's future would be taking place in a hotel in the Tunis suburbs.

His visit to the region is his first since rebel advances cut Tripoli off from its supply route to Tunisia at the weekend, potentially shifting the momentum in the rebels' favour.

That development was followed by unconfirmed reports quoting sources close to Tunisian security services, that new talks between representatives of the rebels and Al Qathafi's government, had met in Djerba, near the Tunisian-Libyan border.

The official Tunisian news agency, TAP said Libyan Health Minister Ahmed Hijazi and Social Affairs Minister Ibrahim Cherif stayed in Djerba on Sunday, where they were joined by Foreign Minister Abdulati al-Obeidi.

This was denied by a Libyan government spokesman in Tripoli, but sources are still adamant in saying that such talks had taken place.

Without giving details of the content of the talksTAP added, that negotiations were under way with "several other foreign parties," and another reliable source even stated that an envoy of Al Qathafi's ally, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, was also present during the talks.

The UN's involvement in the discussions that, one hopes, could lead to a peaceful settlement, follows Ban Ki-moon's statement last Thursday reaffirming "his strongly held belief that there can be no military solution to the Libyan crisis.

He had said: "A ceasefire that is linked to a political process which would meet the aspirations of the Libyan people is the only viable means to achieving peace and security in Libya."

He further urged the Libyan leader, and the rebels "to immediately engage" with Khatib, and "respond concretely and positively to the ideas presented to them, in order to end the bloodshed in the country."

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