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Turkey asks Russia to get Libyan general to accept truce

EU leader Michel holds talks in Turkey on Libya conflict

By AFP - Jan 11,2020 - Last updated at Jan 11,2020

Demonstrators take part in a rally against eastern Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar and in support of the UN-recognised government of national accord (GNA) in Martyrs' Square in the GNA-held capital Tripoli, on Friday (AFP photo)

ISTANBUL — Turkey on Saturday asked Russia to convince eastern Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar to respect a ceasefire initiative by Ankara and Moscow that he has rejected. 

"We are waiting for our Russian friends to succeed in convincing Haftar," Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told a news conference.

In a statement read by his spokesman Ahmad Al Mesmari, Haftar claimed that a revival of the political process and the country's stability could only be assured by the "eradication of terrorist groups" and the dissolution of militia controlling Tripoli.

An adviser to Haftar later told AFP that Haftar's position did not amount to a rejection of the ceasefire initiative, but rather "conditions that must be fulfilled" ahead of any truce.

Haftar's forces in April launched an offensive against the capital, seat of the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA).

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin called for a ceasefire on Wednesday in Istanbul.

Cavusoglu accused "regional nations" — a reference to Arab countries backing Haftar and also to France — of opposing a ceasefire.

"France is looking for any means to sabotage any initiative which it is not party to," he said.

Turkey last week started deploying troops in Libya to back the GNA led by Fayez Al Sarraj.

Cavusoglu also said Saturday that a new ceasefire brokered by Ankara and Moscow was due to come into force at 0001 GMT Sunday in Idlib, the last rebel bastion in Syria's northwest.

"We hope that it will be lasting this time and that Russia will be able to control the regime forces," he said.

Meanwhile, EU Council President Charles Michel arrived in Turkey Saturday for talks with Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan on reducing tensions in Libya after Ankara began deploying troops there.

Michel tweeted Saturday that he would meet with Erdogan "on how #EU and Turkey can work together to de-escalate the situation in the Middle East and in Libya".

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