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The New Arab Staff & Agencies

EU says NATO talks on Irini not prompted by Turkey incident

Libya is experiencng conflict [Getty]

Date of publication: 13 June, 2020

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The EU assured that moves to cooperate with NATO over a naval mission were not prompted by Turkey.


Turkey, Libya, EU

The EU has said moves to cooperate with NATO over a naval mission enforcing an arms embargo on Libya were not prompted by a recent incident in which Turkey prevented the inspection of a suspect ship.

NATO on Friday confirmed it was looking at how its Operation Sea Guardian, which has two ships patrolling the Mediterranean, could support the EU's new Operation Irini.

Irini was set up to enforce a United Nations embargo aimed at halting the flow of arms to Libya, where the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) has faced a major uprising by the forces of Russian-backed rogue General Khalifa Haftar.

Read also: US court hears torture case against Libyan warlord Haftar

An EU spokesperson said discussions with NATO were part of "regular exchanges on the work done in regards to missions and operations".

Turkey has strongly backed the GNA, including by sending sophisticated drones and air defence systems, helping turn the tide of the conflict against Haftar in recent weeks.

On Wednesday a Greek vessel with Operation Irini was prevented from inspecting a suspicious freighter off the Libyan coast by its Turkish military escort, but the EU spokesperson insisted this was not the reason for seeking NATO cooperation.

"This is part of a natural process between two organisations that are cooperating and working together to achieve common results: the security and stability of Europe and its neighbourhood," the spokesperson said in a statement issued late Friday.

"This cooperation was not triggered in any way by any recent events -- it is rather part of our natural and usual dialogue and exchanges."

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