Turkey, Russia 'continue to work together' for Libya ceasefire

4 months ago 33
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Turkey will continue talks with Russia over reaching a lasting ceasefire in Libya despite the cancellation of talks on Sunday, Turkey's foreign minister said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin have "agreed to continue working together to establish a lasting ceasefire in Libya", Mevlut Cavusoglu, Turkey's foreign minister, told a news conference on Monday.

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With Turkish military support, Libya's internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) has advanced for weeks against Khalifa Haftar's self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA), which is backed by Russia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt.

Heavy clashes have erupted as the GNA laid siege to LNA-held Sirte, close to major energy export terminals on the Mediterranean seaboard.

The push last week came despite a unilateral ceasefire proposal by Egypt, a backer of the LNA's Haftar, who has waged a 14-month campaign to try and capture the capital.

After launching a counteroffensive in March against attacks on Tripoli, the GNA's army recently retook strategic locations, including the Al-Watiya airbase and Tarhuna.

 Libya Control map - June 9, 2020

On Sunday, Russia and Turkey postponed ministerial-level talks that were expected to focus on Libya and Syria, where the two countries support opposing sides in long-standing conflicts.

Cavusoglu and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov decided to put off the talks during a phone call, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said.

Cavusolgu said there are no technical disagreements between Turkey and Russia on Libya, and the postponement of talks was unrelated to any lingering issues on the "core principles" between the two sides.

"The two countries' deputy ministers will continue contacts and talks in the period ahead. Minister-level talks will be held at a later date," the ministry said in a statement.

Libya, a major oil producer, has been mired in turmoil since 2011 when longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi was toppled in a NATO-backed uprising.

Last week, the United Nations said the warring sides had begun new ceasefire talks in Libya.

The latest round of talks came after the collapse of a 14-month offensive by the LNA to capture Tripoli and its retreat from most of its territory in northwest Libya following a series of military setbacks.

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