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US, Major EU States Call for Libya Ceasefire, UN Role

Top US and European leaders today called for a ceasefire in Libya and for the United Nations to take on a major role in helping to stop the spiralling violence and lawlessness.

The appeal came after a conference call between US President Barack Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and the prime ministers of Britain and Italy, David Cameron and Matteo Renzi, a German government statement said.

"The five heads of state and government condemned the violence against civilians, the intimidation of state representatives and the disruption of the political process," it said.

They called on the United Nations "to play an essential role in facilitating the political process" in order to restore stability in Libya.

The leaders agreed "an immediate ceasefire between the militias in Tripoli was necessary," it added.

The Tripoli clashes, the most violent since a 2011 armed revolt that overthrew longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi, started with a July 13 assault on the airport by armed groups, mainly Islamists.

The deadly fighting has spread to other cities and today a huge fire erupted at an oil depot outside the Libyan capital, threatening its vital oil industry already hit by the exodus of foreign workers.

The violence has led the United Nations and the United States to withdraw their personnel from Libya while other Western powers have told their nationals to leave the country.

In the telephone talks, the leaders also discussed the crises in Ukraine and Gaza.

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