Erdogan in Tunisia for surprise visit to discuss Libya

Erdogan reiterated that Turkey would evaluate sending soldiers to Libya if there is an invitation from Tripoli, where the United Nations-supported but weak administration of Prime Minister Fayez Sarraj is based.

25 December 2019 | 16:34

Source: Associated Press

  • Source: Associated Press
  • Last update: 25 December 2019 | 16:34

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, left, Tunisian President Kais Saied, right, inspect a military honour guard at the airport, in Tunis, Tunisia, Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2019. (AP Photo)

ISTANBUL: Turkey’s president has met with Tunisia’s president in a surprise visit to Tunis to discuss the conflict in neighboring Libya.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters Wednesday he and President Kais Saied discussed steps for a ceasefire in Libya and a return to political dialogue.

The fighting in Libya has threatened to plunge the North African country into violence rivaling the 2011 conflict that ousted and killed longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

The Tunisia visit follows two agreements Erdogan struck with the Libyan government that controls the capital, Tripoli, and some of the country’s west. The maritime and military agreements were condemned by the rival Libyan government in the east and the forces loyal to commander Khalifa Hifter.

Erdogan reiterated that Turkey would evaluate sending soldiers to Libya if there is an invitation from Tripoli, where the United Nations-supported but weak administration of Prime Minister Fayez Sarraj is based. The military agreement signed into law last week allows Turkey to dispatch military experts and personnel, along with weapons, despite a U.N. arms embargo that has been violated by other international actors.

The maritime agreement that could give Turkey access to a contested economic zone across the eastern Mediterranean Sea has been condemned by Greece, Cyprus and Egypt as well as the rival Libyan government.

Besides Turkey, the Tripoli-based government is backed by Italy and Qatar. The eastern government is supported by France, Russia, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and other key Arab countries.

Erdogan was accompanied by the Turkish defense minister, foreign minister and intelligence chief, among others.

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