Conte to raise Libya’s concerns with Erdogan

epa08068245 Prime Minister of Italy Giuseppe Conte arrives at the second day of an European Council summit in Brussels, Belgium, 13 December 2019. EPA-EFE/CHRISTIAN HARTMANN / POOL

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Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte said Friday at a press conference following the EU summit that he would be contacting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in relation to the latter’s “mistaken approach” on Libya. Conte said that he had already met with Erdogan at the NATO summit in London.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday that since Turkey and Libya had signed an expanded security and military cooperation agreement, the military accord granted Turkey the right to deploy troops in Libya if the Tripoli government so asked, and added this would not violate a United Nations arms embargo on Libya.

Italy, he said, holds that Turkey’s agreement with Libyan Government of National Accord (LNA) Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj is “unacceptable since it seems to engage in an illusory logic of the dividing of spheres of competence. Such an agreement has no real effectiveness and it shows an absolutely mistaken approach.” Earlier this week, Erdogan had said Turkey was ready to send troops to Libya to assist the GNA if there was a request.

Libyan Commander Khalifa Haftar urged his forces to advance towards the centre of Tripoli on Thursday evening in what he said would be the “final battle” for the capital.

Haftar, who heads the eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA), launched an offensive in April to try to take control of Tripoli which stalled on the outskirts of the city.

“Today we announce the decisive battle and the advancement towards the heart of the capital to set it free …advance now our heroes,” Haftar said in a speech broadcast on Al Arabiya TV.

Haftar is backed by Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and most recently Russian mercenaries, according to diplomats and Tripoli officials. The LNA denies it has foreign backing.

The GNA said on Thursday that the situation was “under control” and that its troops were holding their positions in the capital’s south.

“We are ready to push back any more mad attempt by the Haftar putsch leader,” said GNA Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha on al-Ahrar television.

Via ANSA / Reuters / France24 / Al Arabiya / Libyan Express

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