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Libyan rivals adjourn 'unity' talks

Libya's two rival parliaments have failed at talks in Morocco to agree on a UN-drafted deal for a joint government. Outsiders, including the EU, say a stable Libya is needed to deter jihadis in the North African nation.

Libya's rival factions returned home for consultations on Monday after holding their first direct talks for months at Skhiratin in Morocco (pictured above).

Since the overthrow of Muamar Gadhafi's regime in 2011, Libya has two administrations, one in Tripoli backed by an armed alliance, and the other, which is recognized internationally, in the eastern port city of Tobruk.

Speaking in Shkirat, UN envoy Benardino Leon said he was "convinced" that a solution would soon be reached. He urged both sides to meet again on Thursday.

Leon claimed there was agreement on most elements of the text, but acknowledged that there were "two, three positions that are not agreed by the parties."

UN Gesandter Bernardino Leon für Libyen

Leon is 'convinced' that a Libya deal is near

But let me also insist an agreement is possible on the main text of the political agreement," the envoy said.

'Not consulted,' says Tripoli

The delegation from Tripoli said - ahead of the Morocco talks - it had not been consulted by UN mediators about changes made to an initial draft.

"Three key points of the UN draft agreement had been modified without our consultation, " said delegation spokesman Ashoh Ashraf.

Under the proposed deal, a one-year-long government of national accord would be headed by a prime minister and two deputies.

The legislative body would by the House of Representatives.

An upper chamber, to be known as the State Council, would be created with 120 members, incorporating 90 members of the Tripoli parliament.

The draft agreement also covers the disarmament of militias, their withdrawal from Libya's numerous oil and gas facilities, and the command of a national armed force.

Haven for jihadists feared

Four years after Gadhafi's overthrow, world bodies - including the EU - have become alarmed that Libya could increasingly become a haven for Islamist militants, including Islamic State, which has acquired notoriety in Syria and Iraq.

After last Friday's terrorist attack in neighboring Tunisia, EU council president Donald Tusk said the mayhem affected "the security of the whole region and,in the longer term, the security of Europe."

Migrant departures

Libya has also become a major departure region for migrants from crisis nations such as Eritrea and Syria, who are seeking entry into Europe, mainly via Italy.

The Italian coastguard on Monday said the occupants of 21 boats, totaling 2,900 migrants, were rescued from waters off Libya over a 24-hour period.

Those rescues involved Italian ships, British, Irish and Spanish naval vessels and a specially equipped boat operated by the Malta-based organization MOAS.

ipj/rc (AFP, dpa, Reuters)