Turkey and Russia called for a Jan. 12 ceasefire in war-torn Libya on Wednesday while European Union officials intensified diplomatic efforts to cool tensions in the North African country by holding talks with its prime minister, The Associated Press reported.
In a related diplomatic push in Rome, Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte met with Libya’s Gen. Khalifa Haftar, whose eastern-based forces have launched a fresh offensive against Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj’s UN-backed government in Tripoli.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Russian President Vladimir Putin called for the Jan. 12 cease-fire after the two met in Istanbul.
“Seeking a military solution to the ongoing conflict in Libya only causes further suffering and deepens the divisions among Libyans. Securing an immediate cease-fire is the foremost priority to start an inclusive intra-Libyan political process under U.N. auspices,” Erdoğan and Putin said in a joint statement.
Libya is currently governed by dueling authorities in the east and in the west. The east-based government, backed by Haftar’s forces, is supported by the United Arab Emirates and Egypt as well as France and Russia. The western, Tripoli-based government receives aid from Turkey, Qatar and Italy.
The fighting has threatened to plunge Libya into violent chaos rivaling the 2011 conflict that ousted and killed longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
“We have been following with great concern the recent developments, particularly the intensified fighting around Tripoli, in long-suffering Libya,” Putin and Erdoğan’s statement said. “The worsening situation in Libya is undermining the security and stability of Libya’s wider neighborhood, the entire Mediterranean region, as well as the African continent, triggering irregular migration, the further spread of weapons, terrorism and other criminal activities including illicit trafficking.”