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13:28, 27 June 2017 Tuesday
13:40, 20 March 2017 Monday

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Libyan PM still in Tripoli: Government official
Libyan PM still in Tripoli: Government official

Media reports claimed al-Sarraj had fled from Tripoli

World Bulletin / News Desk

A government official has denied reports about the escape of Prime Minister of Libya’s unity government Fayez al-Sarraj from the capital Tripoli. 

Media reports claimed that al-Sarraj had fled from Tripoli and his Defense Minister al-Mahdi al-Barghathi had been abducted. 

“We deny these malicious rumors fanned by local and foreign media,” the official told Anadolu Agency on Sunday, requesting anonymity due to restrictions on speaking to media. 

“Both al-Sarraj and al-Barghathi are inside Libya and are assuming their duties from inside Tripoli,” the source said. 

Violence flared up in Tripoli last week after government forces launched a military operation against a local militia group in western Tripoli. 

At least three people were killed in the ensuing clashes, which later spread to other parts of the capital. 

On Thursday, government forces and the militia reached an immediate cease-fire in the troubled capital. 

The following day, hundreds of civilians demonstrated in Tripoli to call for expelling militias from the capital, amid calls of support for East Libya-based military commander Khalifa Haftar, whose forces have made gains against militias in eastern Libya. 

Libya has been wracked by turmoil since 2011, when a bloody uprising ended with the ouster and death of autocratic leader Muammar Gaddafi after 42 years in power. 

In the wake of the uprising, the country’s stark political divisions yielded two rival seats of government, one in Tobruk and the other in capital Tripoli.

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Cyprus president seeks peace deal in Switzerland
Cyprus president seeks peace deal in Switzerland

Cypriot president Nicos Anastasiades said Monday he hopes to clinch a reunification deal laying out a new security blueprint for the divided island during a crunch summit in Switzerland this week. Anastasiades will attend United Nations-backed talks at the Alpine Crans-Montana ski resort Wednesday with "complete determination and goodwill... to achieve a desired solution", he said in a statement. He said he hopes to "abolish the anachronistic system of guarantees and intervention rights", with a deal providing for the withdrawal of the Turkish army. The eastern Mediterranean island has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded its northern third in response to an Athens-inspired coup seeking union with Greece. Turkey maintains around 35,000 troops in northern Cyprus. The so-called guarantor powers of Turkey, Britain and Greece retain the right to intervene militarily on the island. Greek and Turkish Cypriots are at odds over a new security blueprint, but their leaders are under pressure to reach an elusive peace deal. "I am going to Switzerland to participate in the Cyprus conference, with the sole aim and intent of solving the Cyprus problem," Anastasiades said. Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci is also set to attend the summit, which is expected to last at least 10 days. Greece, Turkey and Britain will send envoys along with an observer from the European Union. UN-led talks on the island hit a wall in late May after the sides failed to agree terms to advance toward a final summit. Unlocking the security question would allow Anastasiades and Akinci to make unprecedented concessions on core issues. But they have major differences on what a new security blueprint should look like. Anastasiades's internationally recognised government, backed by Athens, seeks an agreement to abolish intervention rights, with Turkish troops withdrawing from the island on a specific timeline. Turkish Cypriots and Ankara argue for some form of intervention rights and a reduced number of troops remaining in the north. Turkish Cypriots want the conference to focus on broader issues of power-sharing, property rights and territory for the creation of a new federation. Much of the progress to date has been based on strong personal rapport between Anastasiades and Akinci, leader of the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. But that goodwill has appeared frayed in the build-up to their meeting in Switzerland. The Greek Cypriot presidential election next February has also complicated the landscape, as has the government's search for offshore oil and gas, which Ankara argues should be suspended until the negotiations have reached an outcome.