Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 29 September 2020

France calls for Nato talks on 'aggressive' Turkish role in Libya

The Tripoli government is considering Turkish use of two military bases in Libya, with a view to establishing a lasting Turkish presence, a source said

Members of security forces affiliated with the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA)'s Interior Ministry stand at a make-shift checkpoint in the town of Tarhuna, about 65 kilometres southeast of the capital Tripoli. AFP
Members of security forces affiliated with the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA)'s Interior Ministry stand at a make-shift checkpoint in the town of Tarhuna, about 65 kilometres southeast of the capital Tripoli. AFP

France wants talks with Nato allies to discuss Turkey's increasingly "aggressive" role in Libya, a presidential official said on Monday, and the foreign ministry accused Ankara of thwarting truce efforts by breaking a UN arms embargo.

Turkey, which backs the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord, has secured a foothold in Libya by helping to repel an assault on the capital by the Libyan National Army (LNA) of eastern commander Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar.

A Turkish source said on Monday that the Tripoli government was discussing possible Turkish use of two military bases in Libya, with a view to establishing a lasting Turkish presence.

Paris has been accused of supporting Mr Haftar politically, having previously given him military assistance to fight Islamist militants. France denies backing Mr Haftar but has stopped short of castigating his allies, while repeatedly criticising Turkey.

In a statement on Monday, the ministry said that "foreign interference, in particular the intensification of Turkish support", including what it said was a violation of the arms embargo, was thwarting efforts to secure a ceasefire.

"These interferences are becoming very problematic and, despite our efforts, the situation is getting bogged down. This increasingly aggressive posture is not acceptable," the presidential official said.

"Turkey is supposed to be a Nato partner, so this cannot continue."

Asked what Paris had in mind, the official said there would be discussions soon with Turkey and other Nato partners.

Nato defence ministers are due to hold talks on Wednesday and Thursday.

Ties between Turkey and France are already strained on issues ranging from Syria to oil exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan this month said France's support for Mr Haftar had "really upset" him.

Updated: June 16, 2020 11:20 AM

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