UN discussing resolution to endorse plan for peace in Libya

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. Security Council is discussing a resolution that would endorse a plan for restoring peace in Libya and urge progress toward a cease-fire, amid new clashes between the country’s two rival governments.

The initial British-drafted resolution welcomes the peace plan adopted Jan. 19 at a conference in Berlin attended by leaders of 12 countries, including the five veto-wielding permanent members of the Security Council.

The draft “emphasizes the vital importance of making progress towards a political agreement to end the conflict” in Libya

Civil war in Libya in 2011 toppled longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi, who was later killed. In the chaos that followed, the country was divided. A weak U.N.-recognized administration in the capital of Tripoli overseeing the country's west is led by Prime Minister Fayez Sarraj, while a rival government in the east is aligned with the self-styled Libyan National Army led by Gen. Khalifa Hifter. Each side is supported by an array of militias.

Hifter launched a surprise military offensive last April 4 aimed at capturing Tripoli despite commitments to attend a national conference weeks later aimed at forming a united government and moving toward elections.

His forces receive support from the United Arab Emirates and Egypt as well as France and Russia. The Sarraj government is backed by Turkey and to a lesser degree Qatar and Italy.

The draft resolution is certain to be revised during discussions among council members.

The initial version demands that all 193 U.N. member states comply with a U.N. arms embargo against Libya. It reiterates the council’s decision to impose sanctions on individuals and entities threatening prospects for peace in Libya.

The draft also calls for a first meeting “without further delay” of a Joint Military Commission that under the Berlin agreement is to agree on a permanent cease-fire and decide on monitoring and verification procedures and the separation of forces.

It asks Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to make proposals on possible cease-fire monitoring, including the possibility of contributions from regional organizations. The draft doesn't suggest any names but likely candidates could be the European Union, African Union and Arab League.

Sarraj and Hifter have each appointed five members to the Joint Military Commission, though they haven’t endorsed the 55-point Berlin peace plan.

In Sunday’s latest escalation of fighting, Hifter’s east-based forces advanced toward the strategic western city of Misrata, further eroding a crumbling truce agreement brokered earlier this month.

The clashes came just hours after the United Nations decried “continued blatant violations” of the arms embargo by several unspecified countries. The violations fly in the face of recent pledges to respect the embargo made by world powers at the Berlin conference.

Germany’s U.N. ambassador, Christoph Heusgen, told reporters that he asked for closed Security Council consultations Tuesday on Libya because “we feel that developments on the ground are not matching expectations.”

He said Germany wanted to make the point that it is very important the draft resolution being discussed by the council is adopted soon because it can also “influence the developments on the ground.”

Heusgen said it’ i critical “that the supply of weapons from all different directions and from foreign fighters stops.”

“Otherwise there will be no solution,” he said. “There is no military solution to the conflict in Libya. We need a political solution.”

Diplomats said council members were waiting to hear a briefing Wednesday from Ghassan Salame, the U.N. envoy for Libya, on the latest situation, which could affect language in the draft resolution.