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New UN envoy to restart Libya unity govt talks

German diplomat Martin Kobler says talks will restart with Libya's rival factions to attempt to agree a unity government. He said his priority would be security to achieve "durable peace."

Kobler took up his new job as United Nations special envoy for Libya on Tuesday, saying he was "full of hope and determination" as replaced from Spaniard Bernardino Leon.

His appointment comes after almost a year of intense negotiations, which - in October - saw the UN propose a power-sharing deal aimed at establishing a unity government for the oil-rich country.

But Libya's rival factions quickly rejected the plan, which would have seen the war-ravaged nation governed by a nine-member presidential council made up of a prime minister, five deputy prime ministers and three senior ministers.

Two steps forward

Kobler on Tuesday said his priority would be to restart talks to form a unity government.

"Only through dialogue and unity can stability be attained and the state's authority restored," he said in a statement.

"We cannot afford to waste the hard work already done," Kobler added.

The veteran German diplomat is due to meet several Libyan political leaders in the next few days in a bid to push for a peace deal.

Moderates on both sides have agreed to the unity government proposal, as have some of the armed factions. But hardliners in both camps are holding out against the deal.

Libyan militia

The chaos unleashed by the Arab Spring led to the rise of powerful militias and left Libya labeled as a failed state

"Islamic State" threat

Kobler vowed that security would also be a priority, after the country descended into chaos following the fall of dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011.

The fighting that followed his ouster saw an an Islamist-backed militia alliance overrun Tripoli, forcing the internationally recognized government to take refuge in the country's east.

Two administrations have attempted to run the country since August 2014.

A former ambassador to Iraq and Egypt, Kobler led the UN peace mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo over the past two years and has represented the United Nations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Italian Lieutenant General Paolo Serra has been appointed as Kobler's "senior adviser" for security matters.

mm/bw (AFP, Reuters)