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File picture: Tripoli government forces clash with forces led by Field Marshal Khalifa Hifter, south of the capital Tripoli, Libya. Image Credit: AP

Geneva: The UN mission in Libya said Monday that the country’s warring sides had agreed to turn a shaky ceasefire into a lasting deal, stirring modest hopes after weeks of sporadic violence that derailed negotiations.

As the latest round of UN-mediated talks between rival military leaders wrapped up in Geneva, both sides reached a draft deal “to facilitate the safe return of civilians to their areas”, according to a UN statement.

The return of thousands of displaced civilians will be monitored by military representatives in Geneva with support from the UN mission in Libya.

The delegates negotiating on behalf of Libya’s rival administrations must now send the draft for approval to their respective leaders who have the power to halt the fighting, a prospect that faces further obstacles. The representatives promised to reconvene in Geneva next month to hammer out details of the deal’s implementation.

Monday’s apparent breakthrough came days after eastern-based forces under the command of Khalifa Haftar escalated their attacks on the capital of Tripoli.

The current ceasefire was brokered in January by Russia and Turkey, which back opposite sides in the conflict. A high-profile international summit followed in Berlin, where world powers with interests in the oil-rich North African country pledged to push for the cease-fire and uphold a widely flouted arms embargo.

Developments on the ground have repeatedly defied diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis. Foreign backers keep pouring weapons into the country, the UN alleges. Fighting continues around the capital, as each side accuses the other of violating the cease-fire.