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Turkey and Russia call for Libya ceasefire starting Sunday

  • 8 Jan 2020

Presidents Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin called for a cessation of all hostilities in the northern African country starting from January 12 at midnight, following their meeting in Istanbul.

A fighter loyal to the UN-backed Libyan Government of National Accord fires a truck-mounted gun during clashes with forces loyal to warlord Khalifa Haftar in the capital Tripoli's suburb of Ain Zara on September 7, 2019. ( MAHMUD TURKIA / Getty Images )

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin called for a ceasefire in Libya following a meeting in Istanbul on Wednesday.

"Our president Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Russian head of state Vladimir Putin today called for a ceasefire to start on January 12 at midnight," said Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, speaking alongside his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Istanbul. 

The Turkish, Russian leaders stressed the importance of participation of all sides, neighbouring countries in efforts to resolve Libya crisis, Lavrov said.

Earlier on Wednesday, both leaders discussed Libya and Syria conflicts before launching a new gas pipeline, TurkStream, linking their countries at a ceremony in Istanbul.

Both sides have established a regular dialogue over the Syrian conflict, despite being on opposing sides, but now find their relations tested again in Libya.

Libya conflict

Libya has been divided since 2014 into rival camps based in Tripoli and the east, each with its own set of institutions. Warlord Khalifa Haftar's offensive against Tripoli upended UN efforts to broker a political settlement.

Turmoil in Libya, where strongman Muammar Gaddafi's long rule was toppled in 2011, has in recent years disrupted the OPEC member's oil production, fuelled migrant smuggling to Europe, and given space to militants.

Regional powers have upped intervention, with Turkey backing the UN-endorsed government and Haftar's illegal militia receiving support from the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, and Egypt.

Last week, Turkey sent its first troops to help defend the UN-backed Tripoli government, which is under siege from Haftar's militia.

Erdogan has underlined that the deployment remains small for now: only 35 soldiers and limited to training and coordination roles, according to comments carried in the Turkish Hurriyet newspaper.

He has criticised the presence of 2,500 Russian mercenaries supporting Haftar –– claims denied by Moscow.

Also on Wednesday, the head of Libya's UN-recognised government held talks with European Union officials in Brussels.

Libyan Prime Minister Fayez Sarraj met with the EU's top diplomat, Josep Borell, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas to discuss the ongoing conflict. 

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