Premature to say Libya peace talks failed – Turkish defence minister

It would be premature to say Libyan ceasefire talks brokered by Turkey and Russia had failed, even though Libyan National Army (LNA) leader General Khalifa Haftar left Moscow without signing a deal, Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said on Wednesday.

Turkey has helped the Tripoli-based U.N.-recognised Government of National Accord fend off attacks from the LNA since last year, and Haftar is believed to be adamant that Turkey should be left out of international efforts to monitor the peace process in the country.

But Russia, whose mercenaries have provided support to Haftar’s forces, has been striving with Turkey to kickstart the peace process and downplayed the general’s exit, saying Moscow was just a prelude to talks planned in Berlin next week.

“It would be premature to say that the ceasefire in Libya has collapsed. An extensive conference will take place in Berlin, and many leaders will attempt it, except for (U.S. President Donald) Trump,” Turkey’s Daily Sabah quoted Akar as saying during a meeting in Ankara on Wednesday.

The minister added that both Haftar and Fayez al-Sarraj, the prime minister of the Turkish-backed Tripoli government, would be in attendance in Berlin.

Turkey signed a military cooperation deal with Sarraj’s government in November, and Akar said Turkish military personnel had already been sent to Libya to train and support forces loyal to Tripoli. The Guardian reported on Wednesday that up to 2,000 fighters from Turkish-backed Syrian rebel groups were also being deployed to the country.

"We do not think other forces will want to face off against the Turkish forces on the field in Libya,” Akar said.