Libya's newly appointed foreign minister says he hopes negotiations could resolve the standoff in Tripoli, where Islamist militias have taken over the capital and forced out elected lawmakers.

Foreign Minister Mohamed Dayri, who assumed his post in late September, told The Associated Press on Thursday that he hopes that negotiations mediated by the United Nations would allow his government to return to the capital.

Dayri says that he is "seeking a settlement" and that the "political track should be enough to bring us back to Tripoli."

At the same time, the minister was not so optimistic about Benghazi, where battles are raging between Islamist militiamen who have controlled the eastern city since August and army troops trying to retake it.

He says Benghazi will have to be retaken by force.