Russia’s Putin to hold talks with Turkey’s Erdogan over Libya situation

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks at his annual press conference in Moscow, Russia, Dec. 19, 2019./ PHOTO: Xinhua/Bai Xueqi.

Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold talks with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan on bilateral cooperation and international affairs including the situations in Syria and Libya, the Kremlin said on Tuesday.

President Putin scheduled to travel to Istanbul for the opening ceremony of the TurkStream natural gas pipeline, which is hoped will propel Turkey to becoming an energy hub.

Consisting of two 930-km pipelines under the Black Sea, the TurkStream project will see Russian gas pumped to Turkey and then to Bulgaria, Serbia and Italy, diversifying the deliveries of Russian energy to Europe.

The pipeline took five years to complete, and it transits the Black Sea before surfacing outside the Turkish capital.

TurkStream pipeline is one of two major new natural-gas export routes totaling nearly $20 billion that Russia expects to go on line this year.

Away from the pipeline launch, President Putin and President Erdogan will hold talks on Libya, which has seen a recent hike in tensions following a decision by Ankara to deploy troops to support the U.N.-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj.

Al-Serraj’s forces are battling troops loyal to renegade general Khalifa Haftar, who aims to take control of the capital Tripoli.

Libya has been dogged by war since December 2011, and the situation heightened in early 2019 when Gen. Hafter pledged to take over Tripoli from the GNA.

Since 2011, the Libyan war has killed thousands and displaced millions as militant groups and human trafficking cells sought to impose their command in various regions across the country.

Earlier this week, France and Egypt called for the “greatest restraint” by Libyan and international authorities to avoid an escalation of the conflict that has rocked the country for months.

On Tuesday, foreign ministers from the U.K., France, Germany and Italy have warned “external actors” to stay out of the Libyan conflict, urging the warring factions to “return to negotiations.”