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Turkish Defense Minister in Libyan Capital to Discuss 'Military Understanding'

Turkish Defense Minister in Libyan Capital to Discuss 'Military Understanding'

Saturday, 4 July, 2020 - 05:30
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar in Tripoli.
Cairo, Ankara – Khaled Mahmoud and Saeed Abdulrazek

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and Chief of Staff Yasar Guler made a surprise visit to the Libyan capital, Tripoli, on Friday.

Sources close to the Ankara-based Government of National Accord (GNA) said the trip was a precursor to a visit by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the capital.

GNA media reported Akar as stressing to Libyan “brothers” that his country, “at Erdogan’s instructions”, will do “all it can for them”, underlining the continued cooperation with the Tripoli government.

A formal reception was given to the Turkish officials at Mitiga Airport where they were received by their counterparts in the GNA. They then met with GNA chief Fayez al-Sarraj for talks on Turkish-Libyan security and military cooperation.

Akar stressed before Turkish and Libyan troops that “Turkey will do all it can for the Libyan people and it will continue to stand by them.”

The visit underscores Turkey’s efforts to establish military bases in Misrata and al-Watiya, both of which fall in GNA territory, said Turkish media.

Meanwhile, the US State Department revealed that representatives of the American administration and Libyan National Army (LNA) had held virtual talks on Thursday on militia demobilization.

A State Department statement said the two sides stressed that all Libyans “should enjoy the protection of capable and accountable security forces, free from the dangers posed by militias, non-state armed groups, and foreign fighters.”

The LNA delegation briefed the US delegation on its commitment to UN-facilitated dialogue and LNA proposals to make progress on security sector reform (SSR) and disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) efforts. The US side reaffirmed that “armed groups that attempt to spoil the political process or engage in destabilizing acts must not be tolerated – and risk international sanctions.”

The US delegation stressed its “opposition to all foreign interference in Libya and discussed the imperative of an immediate ceasefire and return to UN-facilitated security and political negotiations.”

The US delegation emphasized that the “LNA’s affiliation with the Wagner group, a Russian Ministry of Defense proxy, and perpetuation of the oil shutdown are at odds with US and Libyan interests, undermine Libyan sovereignty, and increase the risk of conflict that could damage critical oil infrastructure. Both delegations reaffirmed a desire to de-escalate the conflict and find sustainable solutions that result in a secure, sovereign, and prosperous Libya.”

“Battlefield developments and progress in the UN-facilitated 5+5 talks have created a renewed opportunity and an imperative to address issues related to militias across Libya,” said the State Department.

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