Macron says Erdogan agrees to foreign mercenaries’ exit from Libya
BRUSSELS-- French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday said he had received assurances from Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that he wanted foreign mercenaries to leave Libyan territory as soon as possible.
“We agreed to work on this withdrawal (of foreign mercenaries). It doesn’t just depend on the two of us. But I can tell you President Erdogan confirmed during our meeting his wish that the foreign mercenaries, the foreign militias, operating on Libyan soil leave as soon as possible,” Macron told a news conference at the end of a summit of NATO leaders in Brussels.
Macron was speaking after his first face-to-face with Erdogan in more than a year during which tensions between the two NATO allies worsened, especially over the conflict in Libya.
Turkey deployed troops to Libya under an accord on military cooperation signed with the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA), helping it repel an assault by forces from the Libyan National Army led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar.
Turkey sent thousands of Syrian militants and mercenaries to Libya to fight on the side of the GNA.
Mercenaries from other nations, including Russia and Sudan, are thought to have fought on the side of the LNA.
It also dispatched military advisers and supplied pro-Islamist troops loyal to Sarraj with military equipment, including drones.
During recent visits to Tripoli, Turkish senior officials have been reluctant to accept the evacuation of its mercenaries from Libya despite public calls for that by Libyan officials.
The issue of mercenaries is seen as a hurdle to the organisation of Libyan elections scheduled for next December.