Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan paid a surprise visit to Tunisia on Wednesday to discuss cooperation for a possible ceasefire in neighboring Libya, where Ankara supports the internationally recognized government, Reuters reported.
Erdoğan, speaking at a joint news conference with Tunisia’s President Kais Saied, also reaffirmed Ankara’s willingness to send troops to Libya if it received such a request.
Erdoğan’s visit to Tunis came a month after Turkey and Libya signed two separate accords, one on maritime boundaries in the eastern Mediterranean and another on security and military cooperation.
Turkey backs Fayez al-Serraj’s Government of National Accord (GNA), which has been fending off a months-long offensive by Khalifa Haftar’s forces in eastern Libya.
Erdoğan, the first head of state to visit Tunis since Saied’s landslide election win in October, said the developments in Libya were having a negative impact on neighboring states, including Tunisia.
“We discussed the possible steps we can take and cooperation opportunities with the aim of establishing ceasefire in Libya as soon as possible,” Erdoğan said.
Last week, Erdoğan said Turkey would not remain silent in the face of “mercenaries” such as the Russian-backed Wagner, a group of private military contractors, supporting Haftar’s forces in Libya. Moscow has said it is very concerned about the prospect of Turkish troops being deployed there.
On Wednesday, Erdoğan reiterated that Turkey would evaluate the option of deploying troops if the GNA asked for support after signing the military agreement, and added that the Wagner group had “no connections, nothing” in Libya.
On Tuesday Erdoğan’s spokesman İbrahim Kalın said Turkey’s parliament was working on a draft bill that would allow troop deployment to Libya.
Turkey has already sent military supplies to the GNA despite a United Nations arms embargo, according to a UN report seen by Reuters last month. Haftar, meanwhile, has received support from Russia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.