Turkey’s defense minister on Monday received the commander of Libya’s naval forces in the capital Ankara, said the Turkish Defense Ministry.

According to a statement, in his meeting with Chief of Naval Staff Abdul Hakim Abu Hawliyeh, Hulusi Akar said Turkey stood by Libya’s legitimate government, which is recognized by the UN, to ensure peace and lasting stability in the North African country.

Akar reiterated that Ankara would continue its military and security training and consultancy efforts with Libya, with which Turkey has 500 years of common history and historical fraternal ties, the statement said.

“Libya belongs to Libyans,” said Akar, stressing that Turkey supports an independent and sovereign Libya with territorial integrity and political unity.

Last November, Turkey and Libya signed a security and military cooperation agreement.

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 warlord Khalifa Haftar’s forces.

The UN recognizes the Libyan government headed by Fayez al-Sarraj as the country’s legitimate authority, as Tripoli battles warlord Khalifa Haftar’s militias. Turkey also supports the legitimate government in Tripoli.

This March, the government launched Operation Peace Storm against Haftar to counter Haftar’s attacks on the capital Tripoli, and recently liberated strategic locations, including Al-Watiya airbase and the city of Tarhuna, Haftar’s final stronghold in western Libya.

*Writing by Burak Dag

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