Turkey’s Erdogan says discussed Libya ceasefire with Tunisian president

Turkey’s Erdogan says discussed Libya ceasefire with Tunisian president
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, left, shakes hands with Tunisian President Kais Saied during a welcoming ceremony in Tunis, on December 25, 2019. (AFP)
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Updated 25 December 2019

Turkey’s Erdogan says discussed Libya ceasefire with Tunisian president

Turkey’s Erdogan says discussed Libya ceasefire with Tunisian president
  • The visit comes as Turkey has ramped up efforts to strike deals with nations on the Mediterranean
  • The visit is the first by a head of state to Tunisia since the election of President Kais Saied in October

ANKARA: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday he had discussed with his Tunisian counterpart Kais Saied possible steps and cooperation to establish a ceasefire in Libya.
Erdogan arrived in Tunis earlier on Wednesday on a surprise visit for talks with Saied, the Turkish presidency said, without providing further details.
In a news conference alongside Saied, Erdogan said he believed Tunisia would have "valuable and constructive" contributions to establishing stability in Libya, and added that a ceasefire must be established as soon as possible. 

The visit comes as Turkey has ramped up efforts to strike deals with nations on the Mediterranean, where Ankara has been at odds with Greece over resources off the coast of the divided island of Cyprus.

Last month, Turkey signed a maritime delimitation agreement with Libya’s internationally recognized government, a move that enraged Greece. Athens says the deal violates international law, but Ankara says it aims to protect its rights in the region and is in full compliance with maritime laws.

In a statement, Erdogan’s office said he was accompanied by his foreign and defense ministers, as well as his intelligence chief. It provided no further details on the content or purpose of the talks.

The visit is the first by a head of state to Tunisia since the election of President Kais Saied in October, after Tunisian parliamentary elections.

As part of its expanded cooperation with Tunisia’s neighbor Libya, Ankara also signed a military-cooperation deal with Fayez Al-Serraj’s Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA).

Erdogan has said Turkey may deploy troops in support of the GNA, which has been fighting off a months-long offensive by Khalifa Haftar’s forces to the east of the country.

On Tuesday, Presidential Spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said Turkey may need to draft a bill to send troops into Libya and added the parliament was currently working on it.

Ankara’s possible deployment into Libya has also alarmed Russia, which said it was very concerned by such a prospect.

Turkey has already sent military supplies to the GNA despite a United Nations arms embargo, according to a UN report seen by Reuters last month.