ANKARA

Italy’s defense minister will arrive in Ankara on an official visit Tuesday to discuss regional issues and recent developments in Libya with his Turkish counterpart, Turkey’s Ministry of National Defense announced Monday. 

Lorenzo Guerini will land in Turkey to meet Hulusi Akar as sides are expected to discuss regional issues with a focus on defense and security cooperation between the two countries and the Libyan government.

The meeting will be held after Akar and Turkish Chief of General Staff General Yasar Guler return from an official visit to Libya.

Both Turkey and Italy support the internationally recognized Libyan government led by Prime Minister Fayez al- Sarraj.

Last November, Turkey and Libya signed landmark pacts on military cooperation, as well as maritime boundaries in the Mediterranean Sea.

Under the deal, Turkey sent advisers to help Libyan forces defeat renegade general Khalifa Haftar’s militias.

The Libyan government government launched Operation Peace Storm against Haftar in March to counter his attacks on the capital since April 2019, and recently liberated strategic locations including al-Watiya airbase and the city of Tarhuna, Haftar’s final stronghold in western Libya.

The maritime pact between Ankara and Tripoli asserted Turkey’s rights in the Eastern Mediterranean in the face of unilateral drilling by the Greek Cypriot administration, clarifying that the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) also had rights to resources in the area. It went into effect on Dec. 8.

Libya has been torn by a civil war since the ouster of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. The country’s new government was founded in 2015 under a UN-led agreement, but efforts for a long-term political settlement failed due to a military offensive by Haftar’s forces.

The UN recognizes the Libyan government headed by al-Sarraj as the country’s legitimate authority.

* Writing by Dilara Hamit

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