Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu's statement came as Libya's internationally recognised Government of National Accord and warlord Khalifa Haftar restarted UN-led ceasefire talks.

In an interview, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu recently said the US needs to play a more active role in the political process.
In an interview, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu recently said the US needs to play a more active role in the political process. (AA)

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Thursday said the US needs to play a more active role in Libya, both in achieving a ceasefire and in political talks.

Turkey supports Fayez al Sarraj's internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), whose forces have in recent weeks repelled a 14-month assault on Tripoli by warlord Khalifa Haftar militias.

Haftar is backed by the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Russia.

While Washington has said it opposes Haftar's offensive, it has not thrown its support behind the GNA. It has also lambasted Russian involvement in support of Haftar.

Cavusoglu said the involvement of the US, a NATO ally, was important to protect the alliance's interests, adding that Turkish and US officials would discuss possible steps, as Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and US President Donald Trump agreed during a call on Monday.

"For some reason, the United States has not been that active in Libya, perhaps because of past traumas," Cavusoglu said in an interview with broadcaster NTV.

"The United States needs to play a more active role, both for achieving a ceasefire and in the political process."

On Wednesday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo welcomed the resumption of UN-led talks between Libya's warring sides and urged speedy negotiations to achieve a ceasefire, as a new round of talks began after the GNA's rapid gains.

Cavusoglu, who dismissed a ceasefire proposal by Egypt as an attempt to save Haftar after losses on the battlefield, said on Thursday that only a lasting ceasefire under UN auspices would be acceptable.

Trump also discussed Libya with Egypt's Abdel Fattah el Sisi on Wednesday, and the two leaders discussed ways to resume UN ceasefire talks and the departure of all foreign forces from Libya.

Hagia Sophia not a matter of international affairs

On a separate note, the Turkish foreign minister said Istanbul's Hagia Sophia is "not a matter of international affairs, but a matter of national sovereignty".

Cavusoglu responded to the recent discussions over the possible reopening of Hagia Sophia as a mosque and said the popular site was initially a mosque after conquering of Istanbul.

Stressing that no one should comment on freedom of religion in Turkey, Cavusoglu said the steps taken in the last 20 years towards various minorities in the country is evident.

Turkey's top diplomat also slammed the US over a recently published 2019 Report on International Religious Freedom and said it is "tragicomical" for the US to comment on freedom of religion and human rights.

The Hagia Sophia was used as a church for 916 years. In 1453, it was converted into a mosque by Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II when the empire conquered Istanbul.

Following the restoration work during the Ottoman era and the adding of minarets by architect Mimar Sinan, the Hagia Sophia became one of the most important works of world architecture.

Under the Turkish republic, it became a museum.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has underscored the Ottomans converted the building into a mosque instead of razing it, a fate suffered by many mosques taken from Ottomans.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies