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Turkey, Libya renew commitment to 2019 maritime deal

Apr 12,2021 - Last updated at Apr 12,2021

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (right) and Libya’s interim Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah pose for a photo during a signing ceremony after their meeting at the Presidential Palace in Ankara, on Monday (AFP photo)

ANKARA — Turkey and Libya on Monday renewed their commitment to a controversial maritime deal signed in 2019, as Libyan Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibah paid his first official visit to Ankara.

Dbeibah was selected earlier this year through a UN-backed inter-Libyan dialogue to lead the country to national elections in December 2021.

His government replaces two rival administrations based in Tripoli and the country’s east, the latter loyal to military strongman Khalifa Hafter, whose forces tried but failed to seize the capital in a 2019-20 offensive.

Under the 2019 deal agreed by Ankara and the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA), Turkey claimed greater rights over vast areas of the Mediterranean but was challenged by other countries including Greece.

“Regarding the agreements signed by our countries, especially the maritime deal, we reaffirm that those agreements are valid,” Dbeibah said after talks with Erdogan.

The Turkish leader said the 2019 deal “secured the national interests and future of the two countries”.

“Today we reaffirmed our commitment to this matter,” Erdogan said.

The two leaders also signed a series of agreements before a press conference in the capital.

The Libyan premier said Turkish companies would play “an important role in Libya’s reconstruction given their long experience when it comes to working in Libya”.

Dbeibah added that the two countries will soon work towards “a free trade agreement”.

Turkey and the GNA had signed a military agreement alongside the maritime boundary deal which gave Ankara more rights to explore energy in the Mediterranean in November 2019.

Ankara’s military backing to the GNA during an offensive by Haftar helped turn the tide of the war in favour of Tripoli.

Erdogan said on Monday that Turkey would strengthen “solidarity and cooperation” with Libya.

“We will continue to give all kinds of support to the Government of National Accord as we did for the previous legitimate government,” the Turkish leader added.

He said that from Tuesday, Turkey would provide Libya with 150,000 coronavirus vaccine doses, without offering further details.

Libya has been mired in conflict since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed veteran dictator Muammar Qadhafi.

But in October last year the two sides signed a truce before a UN-led process saw a new transitional government installed in February.

 

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