Turkey, Russia Postpone Talks Focused On Libya, Syria
By RFE/RL June 14, 2020
Russia and Turkey have postponed high-level talks that were expected to focus on Libya and Syria, where the two countries support opposing sides in long-standing conflicts.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, decided to put off the talks during a phone call on June 14, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
"The two countries' deputy ministers will continue contacts and talks in the period ahead. Minister-level talks will be held at a later date," the statement said.
Lavrov and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu had been set to visit Istanbul for the talks.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said discussion will be held on the date of the ministers' meeting.
The United Nations said this week that warring sides had begun new peace talks in Libya. The country has been torn by civil war since a NATO-backed popular uprising ousted and killed the North African country's longtime dictator, Colonel Muammar Qaddafi, in 2011.
The struggle pits Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar's self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) in the east of the country against the internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA).
Moscow, along with the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, backs the LNA in the conflict.
Turkey, which deployed troops, drones, and Syrian rebel mercenaries to Libya in January, supports the government in Tripoli alongside Qatar and Italy.
In Syria, Russia and Iran support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while Turkey backs opposition fighters.
Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was expected to visit Istanbul on June 14 for talks with Turkish officials.
Iran's Foreign Ministry had earlier announced that Zarif planned to visit Moscow as well.
With reporting by Reuters, AFP, and Tasnim
Copyright (c) 2020. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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