Turkey poised to help war-torn Libya quickly rebuild, says official: report

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PHOTO: The Independent

Turkey is ready to rapidly start rebuilding conflict-torn Libya, a senior Turkish official said on Friday, after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s senior deputies visited Tripoli this week to discuss cooperation on energy, construction and banking, Reuters reported.

Turkish support has helped the internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) reverse a 14-month assault on Tripoli by Khalifa Haftar’s eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA) that is backed by Russia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt.

A Turkish delegation including the foreign and finance ministers met with GNA officials on Wednesday for talks Ankara said aimed to bring about an end to fighting.

They also discussed payments owed to Turkish companies for past energy and construction work in Libya, the official told Reuters, requesting anonymity.

The Turkish and GNA officials discussed how Turkey could help in energy exploration and operations, including cooperation “on every imaginable project” to help resources reach global markets, the senior official said.

“Many parts of the country are in debris, there is a serious need for infrastructure and superstructure. Turkish companies … are in a position to rapidly begin such work,” the official said.

Before Turkey officially threw its support behind the GNA in November of last year, Turkish builders had worked on projects in Libya. The backlog of Turkish contract work in Libya amounts to $16 billion, including $400-500 million for projects that have not yet begun, a sector official said in January.

Turkish energy firm Karadeniz Power could use its ships to remotely alleviate Libya’s energy shortages amid the fighting, the official added.

Another Turkish source said Ankara and the GNA also discussed sending Turkish advisers to Tripoli to help rebuild its banking system.

On Thursday Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on broadcaster CNN Türk that part of the talks were about Turkish firms returning to Libya after the conflict. He said Turkey may also expand the scope of its military cooperation with the GNA.

Turkey and Russia, which back opposing sides in Syria, too, have been collaborating for a ceasefire in Libya. Turkish entry into the conflict has also stoked tensions with other actors as Ankara seeks a foothold in the oil-rich North African country.

The GNA and LNA have resumed United Nations-brokered ceasefire talks.

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