Turkey says U.S. needs to play more active role in Libya, dismisses Egypt ceasefire offer
ANKARA - The United States needs to play a more active role in Libya, both in achieving a ceasefire and in political talks, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in an interview with broadcaster NTV on Thursday.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday welcomed the resumption of talks led by the United Nations between Libya’s warring sides and urged speedy negotiations to achieve a ceasefire.
Meanwhile, Turkey has dismissed Egypt's proposal for a ceasefire in Libya, saying the plan aimed to save renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar after the collapse of his 14-month military push to seize the capital.
Ankara supports Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj's internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA), whose forces have in recent weeks repelled the assault on Tripoli by Haftar's self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA), backed by the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Russia.
Egypt called for a ceasefire starting on Monday, as part of an initiative that also proposed an elected leadership council for Libya. Russia and the UAE welcomed the plan, while Germany said United Nations-backed talks were key to the peace process.
However, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Wednesday dismissed the proposal as an attempt to save Haftar following the losses he suffered on the battlefield.
"The ceasefire effort in Cairo was stillborn. If a ceasefire is to be signed, it should be done at a platform that brings everyone together," Cavusoglu told the Hurriyet Daily News. "The ceasefire call to save Haftar does not seem sincere or believable to us."
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his United States counterpart, President Donald Trump, discussed Libya in a call on Monday. Erdogan said the two agreed on "some issues" on Libya, and that the GNA would continue fighting to seize the coastal city of Sirte and the Al-Jufra airbase further south from Haftar's forces.
Cavusoglu said Erdogan and Trump had delegated their foreign and defense ministers, intelligence chiefs and security advisers to discuss possible steps in Libya.
Separately, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar told the A Haber television station that Haftar will "certainly disappear" if his battlefield losses continue to accrue.
"As the support behind him is withdrawn, lifted, Haftar will certainly disappear there," said Akar.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for his part welcomed the resumption of talks led by the United Nations and urged speedy negotiations to achieve a ceasefire.
"The agreement between the GNA and LNA to re-enter UN security talks was a good first step, very positive," Pompeo said in a news conference on Wednesday.
"Quick and good-faith negotiations are now required to implement a ceasefire and relaunch the UN-led intra-Libyan political talks," Pompeo said.