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Military means are useless in Libya, Turkey’s Erdogan says

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. AFP/File

Military means are useless in Libya, Turkey’s Erdogan says

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the Libyan crisis could not be solved by “military means”, after talks on Sunday with his Algerian counterpart in Algiers.

Algeria, which shares a 1,000km border with Libya, is trying to mediate a political settlement to the conflict gripping its neighbour that threatens regional stability.

“We have said from the beginning that the Libyan crisis would not be resolved through military means. We are in intense negotiations with the countries of the region and with international actors to secure the ceasefire and facilitate the return to political dialogue in Libya,” Erdogan told reporters after meeting Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune.

Libya has been mired in chaos since a 2011 Nato-backed uprising that killed longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi, with two rival administrations vying for power.

The conflict deepened last year when military strongman Khalifa Haftar, who controls much of the south and east of Libya, launched an assault in April to seize Tripoli, base of the UN-recognised Government of National Accord.

Ankara has sent military aid to the GNA, while Algiers last week hosted a meeting of Libya’s neighbours that rejected “any foreign interference” in that country and called for a negotiated settlement.

Tebboune said he was “in complete agreement” with Erdogan on the need to “follow what was decided in Berlin” last Sunday, when world players called for an end to foreign interference in Libya and a resumption of the peace process.

“We are working together for peace through daily and precise monitoring of all developments on the ground,” he said.

Erdogan’s visit came as the UN mission in Libya said weapons were pouring into the North African country in violation of a 2011 Security Council resolution, and despite commitments by world powers in Berlin.

Before leaving Turkey for Algeria, Erdogan claimed that Haftar was “constantly behind violations of the ceasefire” – referring to a truce that went into effect in Libya on January 12 at Moscow and Ankara’s initiative.

The Turkish president was accompanied to Algiers – the first leg of an Africa tour – by a high-level business delegation.

During his 48-hour visit Erdogan is due to co-chair with Algerian Prime Minister Abdelaziz Djerad a business conference to bolster the economic partnership between the two countries in the fields of “industry, tourism, agriculture and renewable energy”.

Since 2017, Turkey has replaced former colonial power France as the top foreign investor in Algeria, with nearly 1,000 Turkish businesses established in the North African state, according state media.

In the first 11 months of 2019, Algerian-Turkish trade exceeded $4 billion, making Turkey the fifth largest trade partner with Algeria after China, France, Italy and Spain, according to official Algerian figures.

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