Before the joint opening of a natural gas pipeline, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan received Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin in Istanbul. The face-to-face conversation lasted an hour and 35 minutes, the state news agency Anadolu reported. Both called for a ceasefire in the Libyan war from January 12. This emerges from a joint statement by the two presidents.
Civil war has raged in Libya since the fall of long-term ruler Muammar al-Gaddafi in 2011. Erdogan had announced on Sunday night that Turkey had sent the first soldiers to Libya. On Wednesday, a report by the newspaper “Hürriyet” said that 35 Turkish soldiers had arrived there. Turkey supports the internationally recognized government of Prime Minister Fajis al-Sarradsch in Tripoli, who is fighting for power with General Chalifa Haftar and a counter-government in eastern Libya. Russia, like several Arab states, is on Haftar’s side.
Great importance was therefore attached to the Putin and Erdogan meeting. Chancellor Angela Merkel had last called both of them and will fly to Moscow for a talk with Putin on Saturday.
Both heads of state called on all concerned to exercise restraint in the face of the recent US-Iran confrontation. Mutual attacks and the use of force do not help to “find solutions to the complex problems in the Middle East”. Russia and Turkey demanded “to act with caution and prudence and to give priority to diplomacy,” the press release said.
Erdogan also spoke about the crises in the region during his speech at the opening of the Turkish Stream gas pipeline. Turkey does not want it to “become a stage for proxy wars”. “No one in our region has the strength to pay new prices. Nobody has the right, just for their own profit, to throw Iraq and the entire region into a new circle of fire.”