ANKARA: Turkish and Russian delegations met on Wednesday in Turkey’s capital to discuss the war in Libya and agreed to press ahead with efforts for a lasting cease-fire in the North African country, Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said.
A joint statement released after the meeting said the sides — who back rival parties in the conflict — had agreed to work together and encourage Libya’s opposing factions to create “conditions for a lasting and sustainable cease-fire.” They also agreed to joint efforts to advance a political dialogue.
Turkish-backed forces allied with the UN-supported government in Tripoli, the capital, are mobilizing on the edges Sirte and have vowed to retake the Mediterranean city, along with the inland Jufra air base, from rival
forces commanded by Khalifa Haftar. Haftar’s forces are based in the east.
The Turkish and Russian delegations will consider creating a joint working group on Libya and were scheduled to hold more consultations in Moscow “in the near future,” according to the statement.
The meeting between Turkish and Russian officials comes amid heightened tensions between powers supporting the rival factions in the Libyan conflict.
This week, Egypt’s Parliament authorized the deployment of troops outside of the country in a move that threatened to escalate the spiraling war and bring Egypt and Turkey into a direct confrontation.
Libya was plunged into chaos when a NATO-backed uprising in 2011 toppled longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi, who was later killed.
Drawn by Haftar’s anti-Islamist stance, foreign powers have provided his forces with critical military assistance. Russia has also emerged as a key supporter of Haftar, sending hundreds of mercenaries through the Wagner Group, a private military company.