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Renewed optimism as warring Libya sides agree to open main road, implement truce

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Libya’s warring sides will immediately reopen the main coastal road connecting the vast country’s east and west across front lines, the United Nations said on Thursday, as part of a ceasefire deal agreed last month.

The two sides set up a joint military commission meeting in the frontline city of Sirte where they are hammering out ways to implement the U.N.-brokered truce pact they struck in Geneva.

Speaking at the commission’s new Sirte headquarters, a member of the United Nations’ Libya mission said the two sides would immediately begin work to reopen the road, including the removal of landmines and withdrawing fighters from the area.

Foreign fighters and mercenaries are to be transferred to Tripoli or Benghazi before departing Libya by Jan. 23 as laid out in the Geneva ceasefire agreement.

The implementation of the ceasefire is happening alongside political talks taking place in Tunis, where 75 delegates chosen by the United Nations on Wednesday agreed to hold elections within 18 months.

However, many Libyans remain sceptical that the peacemaking efforts will truly end years of carnage and division, with both sides in the war internally split among rival factions and foreign powers pouring in arms and mercenaries.

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