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story.lead_photo.caption Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, right, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov enter a hall for the talks in Moscow, Russia, Monday, Jan. 13, 2020. Foreign and defense ministers of Russia and Turkey met as part of an effort by Moscow and Ankara to sponsor Monday's talks between rival parties in Libya in the Russian capital. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin, Pool)

MOSCOW -- Talks in Moscow about bringing an end to Libya's long-running civil war failed to reach a solution Monday.

At the meeting, Libya's rival governments considered a draft document spelling out details of a truce proposed jointly by Russia and Turkey that began Sunday.

Fayez Sarraj, the head of Libya's U.N.-recognized government in Tripoli, and his rival Khalifa Hifter met with top diplomats and military officials from Russia and Turkey for the talks that lasted about seven hours. The negotiations were held in closed sessions, and Sarraj and Hifter didn't meet directly.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu said that Sarraj signed the draft agreement, while Hifter requested more time to consider it.

"They have a positive view of the document and asked for extra time until the next morning to decide," Lavrov said of Hifter and his delegation. "I hope they will make a positive decision. Russian and Turkish representatives will continue to offer their assistance."

The truce brokered by Russia and Turkey marked the first break in fighting in months. There were immediate reports of violations by both sides, however, raising concerns it might not hold.

The civil war had been on the brink of a major escalation. Various foreign players back Libya's rival governments, and they have recently been stepping up their involvement in the oil-rich nation's conflict.

Gallery: Libya talks in Russia

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Libya plunged into turmoil after the 2011 civil war that ousted and killed long-time dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

The eastern government is supported by France, Russia and key Arab countries, including Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

Turkey, Italy and Qatar support the Tripoli government, which has faced an offensive by Hifter's forces, which closed in on the capital.

Russia has maintained contacts with both conflicting parties in Libya, but the government in Tripoli has recently charged that Russian military contractors were fighting alongside Hifter.

Asked Saturday about Russian private security companies in Libya, Russian President Vladimir Putin responded that "if there are Russian citizens there, they do not represent the interests of the Russian state and do not receive any money from the Russian state."

Putin noted that mercenaries were sent to Libya from Syria's rebel-held province of Idlib alongside Turkey's border, voicing hope that a lasting truce will help end the deployment of foreign fighters to Libya.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said earlier this month that his country was sending military personnel to Libya to support Sarraj's government. Sarraj visited Istanbul for talks with Erdogan on Sunday before heading to Moscow.

Putin discussed the situation in Libya with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who visited Moscow on Saturday. The Russian leader welcomed Germany's plan to hold a Libya peace summit in Berlin early this year.

In Putin's conversations Sunday with French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, they also emphasized their support of the planned summit in Berlin.

Merkel's spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said that preparations for a Libya conference in Berlin are "in the home stretch" after weeks of consultations. He said the plan is for it to be held in January, but things aren't yet so far advanced that a date can be officially announced.

Information for this article was contributed by Zeynep Bilginsoy and Geir Moulson of The Associated Press.

A Section on 01/14/2020

Print Headline: Libyan sides meet but truce is elusive

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