Turkey has ruled out any prospect of a ceasefire in Libya, saying that an agreement integrating the existing front lines of the conflict would not benefit the internationally recognized National Accord Government (GNA).
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the coastal city of Sirte and al-Jufra Air Base must be handed over to the GNA before it accepts a ceasefire.
The self-proclaimed Libyan National Army (LNA) east of Khalifa Haftar remained behind after Turkish support helped the GNA postpone its 14-month assault on the capital, Tripoli.
Asked about a possible operation against Syrte, held by the ANL, Cavusoglu said that there was a diplomatic effort to resolve the problem.
“There are preparations for an operation but we are trying [negotiation] table. If there is no withdrawal, there is already military preparation. They [GNA] will show all his determination here, “he said on Monday in an interview with the public broadcaster TRT Haber.
Any further advance by the GNA would give it the opportunity to take control of the Libyan “oil crescent”, the region where most of its energy is produced and exported.
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Meanwhile, the United Arab Emirates – which supports Haftar’s forces as well as Egypt and Russia – continues to work for an immediate ceasefire and a return to a political process in Libya, said Anwar Gargash, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke on the telephone with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday. The two men discussed the war in Libya and Syria, where they support the rival sides, said the president’s office, without giving details.
Turkey and the GNA signed a maritime delimitation agreement last year which, according to Ankara, creates an exclusive economic zone from its south coast to the northeast coast of Libya and protects resource rights in eastern the Mediterranean.
Turkish Energy Minister Fatih Donmez said in May that Turkish Petroleum, which had applied for an exploration license in the eastern Mediterranean, could start oil exploration in the region in three to four months.
Cavusoglu said on Monday that Turkey would begin seismic exploration and drilling for natural resources in the part of the eastern Mediterranean covered by the agreement. He did not provide a timetable.
He added that Turkey was open to sharing with companies from third countries such as Italy, the United Kingdom, the United States and Russia.