Turkey to sign off on military pledge to Libya
By Jonathan Spicer and Yesim Dikmen ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkey moved closer to military support for Libya's internationally recognised government late on Saturday when a bilateral deal that provides for a quick reaction force if requested by Tripoli was sent to parliament. Ankara's latest move raises tensions in the Mediterranean region and risks confrontation with forces led by Khalifa Haftar based in eastern Libya, where rival political factions have been based since 2014. Late last month, Ankara and Tripoli signed an expanded security and military accord and, separately, a memorandum on maritime boundaries that Greece said violates international law.
By Jonathan Spicer and Yesim Dikmen
ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkey moved closer to military support for Libya's internationally recognised government late on Saturday when a bilateral deal that provides for a quick reaction force if requested by Tripoli was sent to parliament.
Ankara's latest move raises tensions in the Mediterranean region and risks confrontation with forces led by Khalifa Haftar based in eastern Libya, where rival political factions have been based since 2014.
Late last month, Ankara and Tripoli signed an expanded security and military accord and, separately, a memorandum on maritime boundaries that Greece said violates international law.
While the maritime accord has been sent to the United Nations for approval, the military deal has been presented to Turkey's parliament. "Parliament will enter it into force after approval," Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Sunday.
It was unclear when a vote would take place in the parliament controlled by President Tayyip Erdogan's ruling AK Party (AKP) and its nationalist MHP allies.
On Thursday, Haftar urged his forces to advance toward the centre of Tripoli in what he said would be a "final battle," after an offensive against the government that began in April but has stalled outside the capital.
Egypt, which has condemned the maritime deal as "illegal", urged other countries on Sunday to stop intervening in Libya to enable the country to restore its own security and stability, in an apparent rebuke to Turkey.
"... we have the ability to (intervene in Libya) but we haven't," Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi told a youth forum in the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh.
Sisi expressed his support for "national armies" in Libya, an apparent reference to Haftar's Libyan National Army (LNA).
Egypt is a regional rival of Turkey and one of the main backers of the LNA, which is battling forces aligned with the internationally recognised government in Tripoli. In the past Egypt has carried out air strikes in Libya and has channelled material support to the LNA, according to U.N. experts.
Greece, which expelled the Libyan ambassador over the maritime boundary pact, has also condemned the maritime accord and warned that Turkey is escalating tensions in the region.
"Turkey must choose if it will follow the road of self-isolation, continuing to play the role of trouble-maker in the region, or behave like a good neighbour henceforth," Greece's deputy foreign minister, Miltiadis Varvitsiotis, told Sunday's Ethnos newspaper.
Greece has also condemned new Turkish gas exploration off the coast of the divided island of Cyprus.
On Sunday, Israel's energy ministry told Reuters that a Turkish vessel had asked one of its research ships to leave an area where it was "legally located in Cyprus's commercial waters." Israeli and Turkish media said Turkey's navy escorted the ship away in the incident, which ocurred two weeks ago.
According to the text of the military agreement sent to Turkish lawmakers, Tripoli could request vehicles, equipment and weapons for use in army, navy and air operations. It also provisions for new intelligence sharing.
Utku Cakirozer, a lawmaker from Turkey's main opposition CHP and a member of the NATO parliamentary assembly, said it was "worrying" that Erdogan raised the prospect of sending troops and taking sides in the Libyan conflict.
"Turkey should not enter into a new adventure," he told Reuters. "The AKP government should immediately stop being a party to the war in Libya."
(Additional reporting by Irem Koca in Istanbul and Dan Williams in Jerusalem and George Georgiopoulos in Athens and Mahmoud Mourad in Cairo; Editing by Christina Fincher, Louise Heavens and Gareth Jones)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States
BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.