CAIRO (AP) — Rival Libyan parties agreed to work toward forming a national unity government, as the country’s Central Bank urged serious spending cuts in the face of a large budget deficit.
Libya is torn between two governments and parliaments each backed by troops and militias. Hundreds of thousands of civilians have been internally displaced, hundreds killed and thousands injured. Most foreign diplomats fled the country and shut down their embassies last year.
The United Nations talks are aimed at reaching a ceasefire and laying the groundwork for a practical road map that ends the conflict.
Lawlessness and a proliferation of weapons have turned Libya into a magnet for extremists including affiliates to the Islamic State group and al-Qaeda.
On Friday the UN mission to Libya said it concluded two days of talks in Geneva among rival Libya groups, during which the participants also agreed on pulling out all armed groups from Libyan cities. It said that the participants discussed “confidence building measures” including the release of detainees from both sides, opening closed ports and securing safe freedom of movement around the country.
Another round of talks will be held next week, the statement said, where those who boycotted and other rival groups will be invited to attend.
The conflict has engulfed several Libyan cities and set oil tanks ablaze at a crucial distribution terminal, endangering Libya’s primary source of national income.
On Thursday, the Central Bank issued a statement calling for cuts in the amount spent on diplomatic missions and scholarships along with a review of food subsidies and public salaries in order to shrink a budget deficit estimated at $19 billion.