By Libya Herald reporters.
Tripoli, 16 January 2015:
Nuri Abu Sahmain, president of the rump General National Congress, has had meetings today in . . .[restrict]Ankara with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Sahmain was welcomed by Erdogan at the country’s new $615-million presidential residence, the 1,000-room White Palace. He and his party, also had a meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.
Despite meeting Abu Sahmain, Turkey claims that it recognises the House of Representatives and the government of Abdullah Al-Thinni, which it appointed, as the only legitimate political authoriies in Libya.
Nevertheless, last year when premier Davutoglu was still foreign minister, Turkey broke international ranks and began to talk to the antigovernment of Omer Al-Hassi and the GNC which had conjured it up.
Ankara’s initiative annoyed some European diplomats for being out of step with the hesitant UNSMIL peace initiative of UN special envoy Bernardino Leon. However, the Turkish government insisted that it was affording no de facto recognition to the Hassi regime. It was merely seeking to explore any avenue in the search for peace. And indeed last November, Leon himself had a first meeting with Sahmain.
It is unclear if Ankara played much of a role in the two-day UN Geneva talks that ended last night.
For Erdogan to have hosted the head of the GNC which had refused to go to Geneva, even as the delegates were flying from Switzerland to Tunis on their way home, may have been designed to send some sort of a message.
Turkey has been, with Italy, a major trading partner for Libya. Billions of dollars of Turkish construction contracts remain uncompleted and largely unpaid for. Following Abu Sahmain’s Turkish visit, officials said that the talks had included economic cooperation as well as the need for national dialogue. [/restrict]