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Lebanon questions Turkey on using Lebanese-flagged ship to 'smuggle weapons to Libya'

Lebanon expressed concern after its flag appeared on a cargo ship headed to Libya.

Date of publication: 4 February, 2020

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Lebanon asked Turkey for details about a Lebanese flag's presence on a cargo ship that carried armoured vehicles to Libya while escorted by a Turkish frigate.

Lebanon asked Ankara for details about a Libya-bound cargo ship bearing the Lebanese flag and said to be carrying out Turkish arms, according to The Daily Star on Monday.

Lebanon Foreign Ministry's Director of Political and Consular Affairs, Ghady Khoury, raised the matter with Turkey's Ambassador to Lebanon Hakan Cakil.

Cakil responded with a promise to obtain more information from Turkish authorities, according to the Lebanese daily.

A Turkish frigate escorted the cargo ship, named Bana, which carried armoured vehicles to Libya's capital Tripoli last week.

Maritime traffic data websites state Bana is registered to Lebanon.

According to article 5(1) of the United Nations' Convention on the High Seas, any state granting its nationality to ships must "effectively exercise its jurisdiction and control in administrative, technical and social matters over ships flying its flag".

Lebanon, however, operates a "flags of convenience" policy, maintaining an open registry for vessels without any links to the country in question.

The cargo boat's visit to Libya defied an arms embargo imposed by the UN Security Council on the country since February 2011, which covers the supply of arms and military equipment to and from the country.

Read more: Turkish vessel 'spotted escorting military shipment' to Libya in defiance of UN embargo

Turkey backs the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) which has been fighting an offensive launched by fighters loyal to militia commander Khalifa Haftar, who controls three-quarters of Libyan territory.

Turkey's parliament last month approved a bill approving a military deployment to Libya to shore up the government but Ankara insists the numbers of Turkish troops are small and that they are only there to train Libyan forces.

Khoury and Cakil also discussed bilateral relations, economic cooperation and trade between their countries, acccording to The Daily Star.

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