Erdoğan, Putin discuss situation in Libya

(Adds Erdoğan-Putin phone conversation)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Saturday discussed with Russian President Vladimir Putin the escalating turmoil in Libya during a phone conversation.

“President Erdoğan held a phone call with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to discuss the crisis in Libya. The two leaders also discussed the bilateral relations and regional issues,” the Turkish Presidency’s communications directorate said on Twitter. 

Erdoğan also reiterated Ankara’s support to the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli, state-run Anadolu Agency reported on Saturday citing presidential sources. 

Erdogan met with the head of GNA , Fayez al-Sarraj, at Dolmabahçe Palace in Istanbul and discussed bilateral relations between Turkey and Libya, recent developments in the North African country and regional issues, Anadolu said. 

The Turkish president also called for an end to the attacks of the Libyan National Army (LNA) led by commander Khalifa Haftar, whom he called “nothing but a pirate” on Thursday. 

Haftar’s LNA controls much of the east and south of the North African country, and in April launched an offensive that threatened to capture the Libyan capital city from the GNA.

Ankara backs the internationally recognised Islamist-rooted government in Tripoli, while LNA, which is supported by Turkey’s regional rivals Egypt, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, accuses Turkey of funding and arming Islamist factions in Libya fighting on the side of the GNA. 

The LNA has threatened to target Turkish government assets and blocked flights from Turkey last month, after GNA forces recaptured an important area near Tripoli.

Libya has been in political turmoil since 2011, when former Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi was ousted and killed after more than four decades in power.