Turkey, Russia draft ceasefire agreement for Libya

Turkey and Russia will help the warring sides in the Libyan conflict abide by agreements that aim to end the years-long conflict in the country, the countries’ foreign ministers said at a press briefing in Moscow on Monday.

Russia has backed the eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA) in its fight against the U.N.-recognised and Turkish-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli, but the Russian and Turkish presidents called for a ceasefire after meeting in Istanbul last week.

The meeting in Moscow aimed to cement that ceasefire, which started on Sunday. LNA commander Khalifa Haftar initially rejected the ceasefire, but announced on Sunday morning he would abide by it. On Monday he said he would take until Tuesday morning to study the agreements drafted on the issue, Russian news agency Ruptly quoted Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu as saying.

GNA’s Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj welcomed Turkey call for a ceasefire, but refused to meet Haftar on Monday while the two leaders were in Moscow, Russian state news agency Tass reported.

Turkish military support has helped Sarraj’s government survive an attack from Haftar’s forces, which resumed an offensive against the capital city in December and took the key coastal city of Sirte last week.

An agreement signed in November between Turkey and the GNA allowed for the deployment of Turkish troops to Libya, bringing the conflict to a new phase as regional countries scrambled to respond to news that Turkish boots would soon be on the ground.

Haftar’s LNA backs the eastern-based House of Representatives, which split from the Tripoli government after it rejected the results of an election with an 18 percent participation rate in 2014. The general has received military support from Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and has accused the Government of National Accord of backing jihadist militias from the country’s west.

But Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has maintained strong support for Tripoli, which became a key part of Turkey’s aim of securing a share of potentially huge hydrocarbon resources in the Mediterranean when it signed the deals with Ankara in November.

The Moscow meeting will lay a framework for peace talks to continue with the U.N.-backed Berlin process, Erdoğan said on Monday after meeting Italian Prime Minister Giueseppe Conte in Ankara. Conte expressed his support for the process, which he said aimed to ensure the continuation of an “undivided, independent and sovereign Libya.”