Russia and Turkey to meet on Libya’s future on Sunday

epa08271672 Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu (R) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (L) wait for a bilateral meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (not pictured), with the statue of Russian tsar Peter the Great in the background, at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, 05 March 2020. President Erdogan is on a working visit to Moscow. EPA-EFE/PAVEL GOLOVKIN / POOL

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu will visit Turkey on Sunday for talks, the two countries’ foreign ministries said on Saturday, with media reports saying discussions would focus on Libya.

Turkey supports Fayez al Serraj’s internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), whose forces have in recent weeks repelled a 14-month assault on Tripoli by Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA).

Russia, along with the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, backs the LNA. The United Nations said on Wednesday that Libya’s warring sides had begun to engage in a new round of ceasefire talks. “During the visit, delegations are expected to have consultations and discuss coordination on regional issues,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said of the visit by the Russian delegation, which will include military and security officials.

Turkish state broadcaster TRT Haber said the ministers would also discuss the situation in Syria. Russia backs Syrian President Bashar al Assad’s forces, while Turkey supports opposition fighters. A Turkish-Russian deal three months ago produced a ceasefire that halted fighting in northwest Syria’s Idlib, but air strikes hit the region this week.

Meanwhile, The Libya Observer reports that Turkey is planning to set up two military bases in Libya after the victory of Libyan Army forces under the command of the Government of National Accord and liberation of south Tripoli and other western region areas from Khalifa Haftar’s forces. Yeni Safak newspaper in Turkey said, citing military sources, Ankara and Tripoli’s cooperation is becoming more thorough as Al-Watiya airbase is being re-operated for Turkey, adding that Ankara will put anti-aircraft systems and drones inside Al-Watiya airbase, as they proved successful in operations against Haftar’s forces.

It also indicated that oil drilling and exploration activities are going to start as well between Ankara and Libya, in addition to giving Turkey another military base in Misrata, according to Yeni Safak.

It said Turkey worked to resolve the Libyan conflict using not only ground and air forces but also the naval force, creating a naval missions force off the Libyan coast, helping to thwart threats from the sea to the country.

“The tension and Greek provocations in Eastern Mediterranean requires the presence of Turkish naval forces in Libyan territory and that is why Misrata port will be a military base for Ankara.” The newspaper added, saying it will have the biggest share in Libyan oil drilling and that is why Turkish ships should be inside Libyan waters.

Reuters / Libya Observer

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