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Erdogan Says Europe Should Support Turkish Effort If It Wants To End Libyan Conflict

Updated

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (file photo)

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has called on Europe to support his country's efforts in Libya, where it is providing military support to the internationally-recognized government, if it wants to end the conflict there.

Erdogan made his remarks in a column published on the Politico website on January 18, one day ahead of a UN-sponsored summit in Berlin that will try to stabilize the country.

Representatives of more than 10 countries, including Erdogan, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and others are expected to attend the January 19 conference. China, the United Kingdom, Italy, France, Egypt, Algeria, and the United Arab Emirates are expected to send representatives as well.

The European Union and the Arab League will also participate.

At the meeting, Germany and the United Nations will push rival Libyan camps fighting over the capital, Tripoli, to agree to a truce and monitoring mechanism as first steps toward peace, diplomats and a draft communique said.

Turkey supports the government of Fayez al-Serraj in Tripoli and describes Khalifa Haftar, who heads the eastern Libyan National Army (LNA), as a coup plotter.

"Keeping in mind that Europe is less interested in providing military support to Libya, the obvious choice is to work with Turkey, which has already promised military assistance," Erdogan wrote.

"We will train Libya's security forces and help them combat terrorism, human trafficking, and other serious threats against international security," he added.

In an article published in Tripoli on January 18, the UN's special envoy for Libya, Ghassan Salame, called for "all foreign fighters" to leave Libya.

Salame also said ending illegal weapons smuggling into the country will be on the agenda in Berlin.

The summit on January 19 will put pressure on Haftar and the LNA to halt a nine-month offensive against Tripoli after a week-long lull in fighting. But it will not try to broker power-sharing between the two sides, said diplomats briefed on preparations.

Haftar and Serraj are both due in Berlin -- along with Erdogan and the leaders of Russia, Egypt and other Western and Arab powers. Libya has been in turmoil since the fall of Muammar Qaddafi in 2011.

Erdogan said that, if Libya's legitimate government were to fall, Islamist militant groups such as Islamic State and Al Qaeda "will find a fertile ground to get back on their feet".

Haftar is backed by the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Jordan, Sudanese and Chadian fighters, and most recently Russian mercenaries. France has also given some support.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, and Politico
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