Turkey, Egypt Seek Cooperation in Libya Amid Warming of Ties

Turkey and Egypt agreed on Thursday to work together to help stabilize Libya, in a fresh effort to rebuild ties that strained in part over their support for rival administrations in the North African OPEC member.
“From now on, we will work closely on the Libya issue,” Turkey’s Mevlut Cavusoglu said at a joint news conference in Ankara with his Egyptian counterpart, Sameh Shoukry. The foreign ministers expressed hope for fair and free elections in Libya, which has gripped by conflict sparked by the ouster of longtime strongman Moammar Qaddafi. 
The Libya issue was among the key catalysts for a souring of ties between the two countries a decade ago. Also fueling the tension was differences over what Egypt and Gulf Arab nations said was Ankara’s support for Islamist movements in the region. The nascent diplomatic thaw between the two nations comes as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan seeks to reset strained ties with the Arab world ahead of critical elections in May. 
“When our relations were frosty, there were some suspicions and criticism about our activities in Libya,” said Cavusoglu. Turkey had provided military assistance to the Islamist-leaning, Tripoli-based government, while Egypt backed its eastern rival. 
“But when dialogue started, we’ve seen that our common goal is the same. In the period ahead, Turkey and Egypt can jointly train and strengthen united Libyan forces,” Cavusoglu said. 
On Thursday, Cavusoglu and Shoukry, for whom this was the second visit to Turkey this year, confirmed they were working to appoint ambassadors and prepare the ground for a “summit’ between the two countries’ leaders, as well as reopening their respective embassies. Neither, however, provided a specific time-frame. 
Turkey is still set on capitalizing on its influence over the Tripoli government headed by Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah and to exploit hydrocarbons in Libyan waters under a recent deal with the the premier’s administration in the Libyan capital. That deal served to fuel a festering dispute over maritime sovereignty claims and drew the ire of, and rejection by, Fathi Bashagha, who heads the rival government. 
Greece, Cyprus and Egypt see the deal as a brazen Turkish bid for dominance in the contested waters. 

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