Erdoğan meets Libyan leader Sarraj as fighting in Tripoli rages

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan received Fayez al Sarraj, the head of Libya's United Nations-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), on Thursday, state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

The closed-door meeting in Istanbul took place after Sarraj withdrew from U.N.-sponsored talks in Geneva, saying peace negotiations had been overtaken by events on the ground due to ongoing shelling from eastern factions trying to take Tripoli.

Turkey and the Tripoli government last year agreed on a military cooperation deal, which was ratified by the Turkish parliament in January. Turkey has been sending military equipment and personnel to Tripoli to help the GNA fend off the assault of General Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army, which controls swathes of territory in the east and south of the country. 

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on Thursday accused Haftar of violating a ceasefire agreed at a  multilateral summit last month to pave the way for a political solution in Libya through talks between warring sides. 

Haftar said on Friday he would be ready for a ceasefire if Turkish and Syrian mercenaries left the country and Ankara stopped supplying weapons to the GNA, Reuters reported citing Russian news agency RIA. 

“A ceasefire (would be) the result of a number of conditions being fulfilled ... the withdrawal of Syrian and Turkish mercenaries, an end to Turkish arms supplies to Tripoli, and the liquidation of terrorist groups (in Tripoli),” Haftar told RIA in an interview.