Russia, Turkey cite progress as Libya prime minister signs cease-fire deal

Jan. 13 (UPI) — Russia and Turkey reported progress in their push for warring forces in Libya to reach a long-term truce on Monday after talks in Moscow.

Libya’s U.N.-backed prime minister, Fayez al-Sarraj, signed a deal after the first day of negotiating, while eastern military commander Khalifa Haftar asked for until Tuesday to consider the terms, although Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Haftar has “a positive attitude” toward the deal.

“We hope this decision will be positive,” Lavrov added.

Russia and Turkey back rival forces that have been engaged in a nine-month battle to control the Libyan capital of Tripoli.

Both countries have taken a more active role in the conflict as they seek to gain increased influence in the Mediterranean, with Russia backing Haftar’s forces and Turkey sending dozens of soldiers to train Sarraj’s forces and defend his government.

They recently encouraged the two sides to sign a cease-fire that went into effect this weekend and Emrullah Isler, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan‘s special envoy to Tripoli, said Turkey hopes to turn that agreement “into a permanent cessation of hostilities and find a realistic political solution.”

The final deal would include an agreement to allow a joint monitoring force to oversee and enforce the truce.

“We have worked with our Russian Partners all day long for the factions in Libya to sign a cease-fire letter and we drafted a text,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said. “We have taken into account suggestions, especially from the Haftar side, to reach a mutual understanding.”

Lavrov said there was “progress” in Monday’s meeting despite the fact that a deal was not reached.

“There have been intensive consultations,” he said. “They addressed a document that should help specify some points concerning cease-fire regulations.”