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Turkey says Libya’s Haftar must choose political solution, secure calm on the ground

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Eastern Libyan military commander Khalifa Haftar must abide by calls for a political solution to the conflict in Libya and take steps to secure “calm on the ground,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Tuesday, according to Reuters.

Haftar abandoned talks for a ceasefire in Moscow last week, and the blockade of Libyan oilfields by his forces overshadowed a summit in Berlin on Sunday aimed at shoring up a shaky truce.

His Libyan National Army (LNA) aims to capture the capital, Tripoli, through the backing of Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Russian mercenaries and African troops.

Turkey supports Haftar’s opponents, the Tripoli-based, internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) led by Fayez al-Sarraj, and has dispatched military advisers and trainers to help the GNA.

Çavuşoğlu said Haftar’s refusal to sign a joint communique in Berlin had raised questions about his intent.

“Does Haftar want a political or military solution? Until now, his stance has shown he wants a military one,” he told Turkish broadcaster NTV at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

“Haftar must immediately fall back to the political solution line and take concrete and positive steps in line with calls of the international community for calm on the ground.”

Libya has had no stable central authority since Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown by NATO-backed rebels in 2011. For more than five years, it has had two rival governments, in the east and the west, with streets controlled by armed groups.

At the Berlin summit, foreign powers active in Libya committed to upholding an existing UN arms embargo and stop shipping weapons there, but Çavuşoğlu suggested that the commitment was dependent on a ceasefire holding.

“There were calls for no one to send additional forces or weapons there. All participants pledged to abide by this as long as the ceasefire continues,” he said. “Our president was clear on this … and we voiced it at the end of the summit, too.”

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