Turkey reopens Libya embassy after security shutdown

AFP , Monday 30 Jan 2017

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Reuters)

Turkey reopened its embassy in Libya's capital Tripoli on Monday after a closure of almost three years due to the security situation in the country, the foreign ministry said.

The embassy has been closed since July 2014 but preparations to reopen the mission had been supervised in recent months by Turkey's ambassador to Libya, Ahmet Aydin, who until now had been based in Tunis.

"As a result, activities of the Turkish embassy in Tripoli have resumed today Monday with a reduced staff at the initial stage," the ministry said in a statement.

While Turkey closed its embassy in Tripoli and consulate in Benghazi in 2014, its consulate in Misrata has remained open.

"The reopening of the embassy will allow Turkey to make stronger contributions to efforts to build peace and stability, as well as reconstruction in Libya," the ministry said

Turkey had high hopes for a strong alliance with Libya after the 2011 NATO-backed ouster of longtime strongman Muammar Gaddafi and was the first country to appoint an ambassador to the new authorities in Tripoli in September 2011.

But Libya has been riven by lawlessness and violence since, with rival parliaments and armed groups vying for control of the country and its vital oil wealth.

A government based in the town of Tobruk, which did not control Tripoli but was recognised by the international community, often accused Turkey and Qatar of backing its Islamist rivals based in the capital.

But Turkey strongly backed UN-brokered peace talks that led to an agreement in December 2015 to bring stability to the country.

Fayez al-Sarraj formed a UN-backed government of national accord in Tripoli last year but it has struggled to assert itself further east, where a rival parliament and Khalifa Haftar's self-proclaimed Libyan National Army hold sway.

Ankara has in the last few months moved to improve relations with several regional players, sealing normalisation agreements with Israel and Russia and improving relations with Gulf states.

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