Erdogan in Tunisia to surprise visit to discuss Libya
ISTANBUL: Turkey The president met with the president of Tunisia on a surprise visit to Tunisia to discuss the conflict in the neighbor Libya .
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters Wednesday he and President Kais Saied discussed steps for a ceasefire in Libya and a return to political dialogue.
The fighting in Libya has threatened to plunge the North African country into violence rivaling the 2011 conflict that ousted and killed longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
The Tunisia visit follows two agreements Erdogan struck with the Libya n government that controls the capital, Tripoli , and some of the country's west. The maritime and military agreements were condemned by the rival Libya n government in the east and the forces loyal to commander Khalifa Hifter.
Erdogan reiterated that Turkey would evaluate sending soldiers to Libya if there is an invitation from Tripoli , where the United Nations-supported but weak administration of Prime Minister Fayez Sarraj is based. The military agreement signed into law last week allows Turkey to dispatch military experts and personnel, along with weapons, despite a UN arms embargo that has been violated by other international actors.
The maritime agreement that could give Turkey access to a contested economic zone across the eastern has been condemned by Greece, Cyprus and Egypt as well as the rival Libya n government.
Saied, whose country shares a long border of more than 400 kilometers (around 250 miles) with Libya , said that the Turkish- Libya n agreement delimiting the maritime borders between the two countries, ``does not concern Tunisia,`` adding that it's a Turkish- Libya n issue.
Besides Turkey , the Tripoli -based government is backed by Italy and Qatar. The eastern government is supported by France, Russia, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and other key Arab countries.
Erdogan was accompanied by the Turkish defense minister, foreign minister and intelligence chief, among others.
The two leaders also discussed bilateral issues. Saied said the two sides had discussed `` major cooperation projects, '' including the construction of a children's hospital in Tunisia and the rebalancing of trade between the two, which have a large deficit at the expense of Tunisia.