Libya rivals announce will not take part in Geneva talks

In this Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020 file photo, Ghassan Salame, Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya, speaks at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. (AP)
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Updated 25 February 2020

Libya rivals announce will not take part in Geneva talks

  • Eastern politicians say delegation members rejected
  • The UN had planned to bring together lawmakers from both sides of Libya's conflict to end the fighting over Tripoli

TRIPOLI: Libya's rival camps announced Monday they had suspended their participation in UN-sponsored peace talks this week in Geneva, although a United Nations spokesman said negotiations would still go ahead.
A parliament based in eastern Libya, backed by strongman Khalifa Haftar, said it would not take part because the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) had not approved all its 13 representatives.
A rival authority in Tripoli, the High State Council -- the equivalent of a senate -- said it would also not participate in talks scheduled for Wednesday until progress was made in military negotiations.
"It is in light of conclusions (from military discussions) that the high council would decide to take part or not in political dialogue," the Tripoli body said.
Haftar's forces launched an offensive against Tripoli, seat of the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), last April.
Stalemate around the capital's southern suburbs has persisted for months since then.
A joint military commission with five members from each said wound up talks Sunday in Geneva with a "draft ceasefire agreement" to be finalised in March, according to the UN mission.
A spokesman for UNSMIL said Monday that the political dialogue would still take place.
"The Libyan political dialogue will go ahead as previously scheduled, on 26 February," Jean El Alam told AFP.
"Many participants have already arrived in Geneva and we hope all invited participants follow suit," he said.
But Khaled el-Mechri of the GNA-aligned High State Council said it would not be bound by the outcome of political talks if they went ahead "before knowing the military dialogue's conclusions".


Fire breaks out at petrochemical facility in southwest Iran

Updated 12 July 2020

Fire breaks out at petrochemical facility in southwest Iran

  • The fire was caused by an oil leak but did not lead to any casualties or financial damage

A fire broke out at a facility belonging to the Shahid Tondgooyan Petrochemical Company in southwest Iran but was quickly contained, the official IRNA news agency reported on Sunday, citing a local official.
The fire was caused by an oil leak but did not lead to any casualties or financial damage, Mohsen Beyranvand, the governor of Mahshahr county said, according to IRNA.
Beyranvand described the fire as minor and said it was put out in less than ten minutes.
There have been several explosions around Iranian military, nuclear and industrial facilities since late June.
A gas explosion shook a residential building in Iran’s capital Tehran on Saturday, injuring one person, the semi-official ISNA news agency quoted the city fire department as saying.
A chlorine gas leak occurred at a unit of the Karoon petrochemicals plant near the port of Bandar Imam Khomeini on the Gulf on July 4, injuring dozens, the semi-official ILNA news agency reported. (Reporting by Babak Dehghanpisheh, editing by Louise Heavens)