Turkish, US presidents discuss Libya, Syria over phone

Conversation comes hours after Turkish parliament voted in favor of sending troops to Libya

Enes Kaplan   | 02.01.2020
Turkish, US presidents discuss Libya, Syria over phone


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed the situation in Libya with his U.S. counterpart, Donald Trump, in a telephone call, Turkey's Communications Directorate said Thursday. 

The talk came hours after Turkish parliament voted in favor of sending troops to the northern African country. 

Erdogan said Turkey is monitoring developments "with concern and sorrow" regarding protests against the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, and welcomed an end to incidents surrounding the foreign compound.

Thousands of Iraqis stormed the compound Tuesday protesting airstrikes Sunday in Iraq and Syria against the Kataib Hezbollah militia that killed at least 25 fighters.

The airstrikes were in response to a rocket attack Friday on a U.S. military base in Kirkuk, blamed on Kataib Hezbollah, which is part of the Iran-backed Hashd al-Shaabi group, or Popular Mobilization Forces. Friday's attack killed one U.S. contractor and wounded four U.S. service members.

The two leaders also discussed bilateral relations and the Syrian war, according to a statement by the directorate. 

"Highlighting the significance of diplomacy in solving regional issues, Erdogan and Trump agreed to boost cooperation for mutual gain in bilateral relations," said the statement. 

As well, the White House issued a readout of the phone call, confirming the two leaders discussed bilateral and regional issues. 

"President Trump pointed out that foreign interference is complicating the situation in Libya. The leaders agreed on the need for de-escalation in Idlib, Syria, in order to protect civilians," said White House spokesman Hogan Gidley. 

On Nov. 27, Ankara and Tripoli’s GNA signed two separate agreements, one on military cooperation and the other on maritime boundaries of countries in the Eastern Mediterranean.

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 GNA in the capital Tripoli, which enjoys UN and international recognition.

* Writing by Sibel Morrow; Servet Gunerigok in Washington contributed to the story 

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