UN says Libyan factions to consult before talks next week

Bernardino Leon (3rd L), U.N. special envoy for Libya, attends a meeting with members of the Libyan General National Congress in Tripoli March 2, 2015. REUTERS/Ismail Zitouni

RABAT (Reuters) - The United Nations said on Saturday talks with Libya's warring factions had made progress and delegates would return to Morocco next week for more negotiations after consultations at home on forming a unity government. Western leaders are backing 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. U.N.-backed talks in Morocco aim to achieve a unity government and a lasting ceasefire and put Libya's democratic transition back on track. But both factions face internal divisions over the negotiations and fighting continues. Delegates will return to Morocco for more talks on Wednesday after discussing proposals with their supporters in Libya, the United Nations mission to Libya said in a statement. Representatives from the two sides met in Morocco together for the first time. In previous rounds of talks they have met with U.N. delegates separately. "There was a meeting between the two parties which was symbolic, it was not part of the talks, but symbols count, it was important," United Nations envoy Bernardino Leon said after the meetings. Sharif al-Waf, an independent delegate taking part in the talks, told Reuters both sides would discuss a proposed list of possible leaders to head up a unity government. The internationally-recognized government of Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni has operated out of eastern Libya since a rival armed faction called Libya Dawn took over Tripoli in fighting last summer and set up its own administration. (Reporting by Aziz El Yaakoubi; Editing by Patrick Markey, Andrew Roche and Paul Simao)