NATO chief holds talks in Turkey

AFP , Monday 4 Apr 2011

Talks were held behind closed doors between NATO's chief and Turkey's prime minister as a Gaddafi envoy sought to discuss the possibility for a ceasfire

Leftist demonstrators hold posters with banners in Ankara, Turkey, Thursday 24 March 2011. (AP)

NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen met with Turkish officials on Monday as an envoy of Muammar Gaddafi arrived in Ankara for talks on a possible ceasefire in conflict-torn Libya.

Rasmussen held talks behind closed doors with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a meeting attended also by Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and Defence Minister Vecdi Gonul.
He had further talks with Davutoglu before wrapping up his visit.

"We place great importance on the continuation of efficient NATO efforts... to secure the safety of Libyans, the normalisation of the situation in Libya and an end to attacks on civilians," Davutoglu told reporters after the meeting.

"We reviewed the efforts over the past week... and also Turkey's efforts for humanitarian assistance to Libya," he said.

In the meantime, Libya's Deputy Foreign Minister Abdelati Laabidi arrived in Ankara to seek Turkish help for a possible ceasefire with opposition forces.

"Both sides have told us that they have certain thoughts on a ceasefire. We will talk to the two sides and see whether there is any common ground," a senior Turkish diplomat told AFP on condition of anonymity.

NATO took full control of Libyan operations on Thursday, replacing a US-led coalition that had been conducting air raids since March 19.

Turkey, NATO's sole predominantly Muslim member and a key regional player, had slammed the strikes, vowing to "never point a gun at the Libyan people."

On March 24, the Turkish parliament approved the dispatch of six naval vessels to a NATO patrol mission in Libyan waters as the Islamist-rooted government moved reluctantly to join the military campaign.

Davutoglu said a Turkish ferry that took wounded Libyans from Misrata and Benghazi was on its way to Turkey, expected to arrive late Tuesday at the Aegean port of Izmir.

It carried about 475 people, including about 350 Libyans who are to receive medical treatment in Turkey, relatives accompanying them as well as several dozen Turks and foreigners who requested evacuation from Libya, he said.

Three Turkish military cargo planes were to fly to Benghazi Monday and Tuesday to take medical equipment "to set up a field hospital there to treat wounded people who cannot be transported here," he added.

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