Turkey will continue talks with Russia to reach a lasting ceasefire in Libya, Turkey’s foreign minister said on Monday, adding Ankara is against the unilateral US sanctions against Tehran.
Presidents of both Turkey and Russia have “agreed to continue working together to establish a lasting ceasefire in Libya,” Mevlut Cavusoglu told a joint press conference alongside his Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif, who is visiting Istanbul.
“For a lasting ceasefire in Libya … and to plan detailed steps that are going to be taken after the ceasefire, we have decided that it’ll be better for everyone involved to continue discussions on a technical level,” Cavusoglu said.
“What we can’t have is only two parties, Russia and Turkey, meeting and agreeing on the issues. We have to consider what Libyans are saying. We can’t just unilaterally announce a ceasefire,” he added.
My brother FM @JZarif of #Iran was my first guest during the ‘new normal’.— Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu (@MevlutCavusoglu) June 15, 2020
Signed MoU on diplomatic and consular premises.
Standing against unilateral sanctions on Iran.
Pandemic showed us that today we need cooperation&solidarity more than ever. pic.twitter.com/OSg3UANVRs
Libya’s government, which enjoys recognition by the UN, has been under attack by warlord Khalifa Haftar’s illegal militia since April 2019, with more than 1,000 killed in the violence.
After launching a counter-offensive in March against attacks on capital Tripoli, Libya’s army recently liberated strategic locations including Al Watiya airbase and Tarhuna, viewed as a significant blow to Haftar’s militia.
Iran’s Zarif lauds Turkey
Zarif’s visit to Istanbul is the first by a foreign minister in months, since the start of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Cavusoglu reiterated Turkey’s opposition to US sanctions on neighboring Iran, saying the Covid-19 pandemic has shown that the world needs greater cooperation and solidarity.
“Iran’s stability and peace is important for us,” Cavusoglu said.
“We oppose unilateral sanctions. In fact, the pandemic has taught us that the world needs greater cooperation and solidarity.”
Zarif said the US had “tightened the sanctions in order to damage the Iranian economy during the pandemic.” He thanked Turkey for its support.
Washington imposed heavy sanctions on Iran after the US withdrew from Iran’s 2015 nuclear agreement with world powers in May 2018.
Productive talks with my friend @MevlutCavusoglu & other senior officials in Istanbul.
In-depth exchange & fruitful decisions on bilateral cooperation, and also regional & global issues.
Close consultations imperative.
Next stop: Moscow
Neighbors always our priority. pic.twitter.com/170ZM17IhM— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) June 15, 2020
Flights to resume
Turkish and Iranian ministers said the two countries were working toward reopening their border for travellers and plan to restart flights between both sides on August 1.
The border was closed after the coronavirus outbreak, which hit Iran particularly hard. It has since been reopened for trade only.
Cavusoglu said that Turkey and Iran plan to resume flights on August 1 after a months-long hiatus.
Zarif thanked Turkey for helping Iran fight the pandemic.
“This pandemic has shown that countries depend on each other, and unilateral policies are no solution,” he added.
Exemption from Berlin’s travel warning
Following the meeting with Zarif, Cavusoglu and German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas over a phone call discussed the post-coronavirus normalisation process, tourism, the potential removal of travel warnings for Turkey, and Turkish-EU relations when Germany assumes the presidency of the EU Council.
Germany is due to take over the EU’s rotating presidency on July 1.
Germany and Turkey are in talks to evaluate if Ankara could be granted an exemption from Berlin’s travel warning issued for all countries outside the EU, Maas said last week.
Italy’s top diplomat to visit Turkey
Italy’s top diplomat will pay a visit to Turkey on Wednesday at the invitation of Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, according to the Turkish Foreign Ministry.
Cavusoglu and Luigi Di Maio will discuss Turkish-Italian relations, Turkey’s EU accession process, and the fight against COVID-19, said the ministry on Monday.
The talks will also cover current regional and international issues, it added.
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