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Turkey, Russia call for ceasefire in Libya: Joint statement

Presidents reaffirm 'strong commitment to sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and national unity of Libya'

Handan Kazanci   | 08.01.2020
Turkey, Russia call for ceasefire in Libya: Joint statement Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) during their meeting in Istanbul, Turkey on January 8, 2020. ( Mustafa Kamaci - Anadolu Agency )

ISTANBUL

Turkish and Russian presidents called for a ceasefire in Libya in a joint statement issued following an Istanbul meeting on Wednesday.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin reaffirmed their “strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and national unity of Libya.”

The joint statement said: "We have decided to take the initiative and, as intermediaries, call on all parties in Libya to stop hostilities as of 00.00 hours on 12 January, declare a sustainable ceasefire, supported by the necessary measures to be taken for stabilizing the situation on the ground and normalizing daily life in Tripoli and other cities."

“We support the ongoing Berlin Process, which aims to create a conducive atmosphere to revitalize the UN-facilitated political process,” said the statement, referring to several high-level meetings held in Berlin since last September to put an end to the Libyan conflict.

The meetings were held with the participation of France, Italy, Germany, and the U.K. The negotiations are known as the Berlin peace process.

The statement also reminded “that the [Berlin] process can yield tangible results with the involvement and commitment of Libyans and neighboring countries.”

On Jan.2, Turkey’s parliament passed a motion allowing the government to send troops to Libya’s UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA), which has been besieged by forces of Khalifa Haftar. The warlord supported by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates has made significant advances in recent weeks.

Since the ouster of late leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, two seats of power have emerged in Libya: one in eastern Libya supported mainly by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates and the other in Tripoli, which enjoys the UN and international recognition.

On the tension between Iran and the U.S., the two leaders said "we are deeply concerned about the escalation of tension between the U.S. and Iran.”

“We evaluate the U.S. air operation targeting the Commander of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Qassem Soleimani and his entourage in Baghdad on 3 January 2020 as an act undermining security and stability in the region,” read the statement.

On Friday, Soleimani was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Baghdad.

His death marked a dramatic escalation in tensions between the U.S. and Iran, which have often been at a fever pitch since President Donald Trump chose in 2018 to unilaterally withdraw Washington from a 2015 nuclear pact world powers struck with Tehran.

Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei, who bestowed the country's highest honor on Soleimani last year, vowed "severe retaliation" in response to his killing.

Early Wednesday, the IRGC launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles against U.S. military and coalition forces in Iraq.

On the ongoing Syria crisis, Erdogan and Putin reiterated commitment for “sovereignty, independence, political unity and territorial integrity of Syria.”

The joint statement also urged greater humanitarian aid to “all Syrians, without discrimination, politicization and preconditions.”

The civil war in Syria began in early 2011 when the Assad regime cracked down on protestors with unexpected ferocity, which led to hundreds of thousands of deaths and the displacement of millions.

Turkey and Russia agreed in September 2018 to turn Syria’s Idlib into a de-escalation zone in which acts of aggression are expressly prohibited.

However, more than 1,300 civilians have been killed in attacks by the regime and Russian forces in the de-escalation zone since then as the cease-fire continues to be violated.

Putin attended Wednesday the inauguration ceremony of the TurkStream natural gas pipeline project in Istanbul. The two leaders met twice before and after the ceremony.

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