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Ankara, Tripoli sign maritime hydrocarbons deal

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Turkey’s foreign minister signed a deal in Libya’s capital on Monday allowing for oil and gas exploration in Libyan waters, three years after a maritime border agreement that angered European nations, Agence France-Presse reported.

“We’ve signed a Memorandum of Understanding on exploration for hydrocarbons in Libya’s territorial waters and on Libyan soil, by mixed Turkish-Libyan companies,” Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said at a press conference in Tripoli.

The deal follows an agreement Turkey signed with authorities in Tripoli in 2019 that demarcated the countries’ shared maritime borders but sparked anger in Greece and Cyprus.

Çavuşoğlu, however, stressed on Monday that the new accord was between “two sovereign countries — it’s win-win for both, and other countries have no right to interfere.”

Najla al-Mangoush, foreign minister in Libya’s Government of National Unity, said the new deal was “important,” especially in light of “the Ukrainian crisis and its repercussions” for energy markets.

Turkey had signed a controversial security agreement in November 2019 with Libya’s UN-recognized government, claiming extensive, potentially gas-rich areas of the Mediterranean for itself.

The deal came at the height of a year-long battle between rival governments vying for control of the capital.

The arrival of Turkish drones shortly afterwards was seen as crucial in the victory of Tripoli-based forces against those of eastern military chief Khalifa Haftar, backed at the time by Egypt, Russia and the United Arab Emirates.

Turkey continues to play a major role in Libya’s west, where rival governments are again struggling for control two years after the end of the last major conflict.

Çavuşoğlu was accompanied in Tripoli by a high-level delegation including Turkey’s energy, defense and trade ministers.

Libya has been mired in violence for more than a decade since the 2011 toppling of dictator Muammar Gaddafi in a NATO-backed uprising.

Dozens of armed groups have been struggling for influence, backed by multiple foreign powers.

Since March, a government appointed by Libya’s eastern-based parliament has been attempting to take office in Tripoli, but has so far failed.

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