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Greek FM in Libya for talks with pro-Haftar parliament ahead of Sirte battle Open in fullscreen

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Greek FM in Libya for talks with pro-Haftar parliament ahead of Sirte battle

Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias will meet Aguila Saleh for talks [Getty]

Date of publication: 1 July, 2020

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The surprise visit from the Greek offical is the latest sign of deepening ties between Athens and Haftar

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias arrived in the eastern Libyan city of Tobruk, the self-declared capital of strongman Khalifa Haftar’s rival government, according to media reports on Wednesday.

Foreign Minister Dendias, who is in the coastal city after a two-day trip to Tunisia, will hold talks with the speaker of eastern-based parliament, Aguila Saleh, the pro-Haftar Great Jamahiriya reported.

Greek media said Dendias' trip is part of efforts to broker a ceasefire between Haftar's self-styled Libyan National Army and the UN-recognised Government of National Accord.

Haftar's forces have suffered a series a defeats to the Turkish-backed GNA in recent months, with signs of deepening ties between Greece and Libya's rival authority.

Early this year, Haftar visited Athens after the Tripoli-based GNA signed a maritime and security cooperation deal with Turkey.

Greece staunchly opposed that deal, which expands Turkey’s maritime borders in the contentious Mediterranean.

Turkey has been a staunch supporter of the GNA, which is led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj.

In January, the UN-recognised government voted in support of Turkish intervention, enabling its forces to turn the tides against Haftar’s assault on the Libya capital, launched last year.

Sirte, the hometown of longtime dictator Mummar Gaddafi and a strategic access point to Libya's key oil fields, has emerged as the frontline in Libya's war.

Haftar-allied foreign mercenaries are reportedly pouring into the boundary between the country’s west and east, ready to engage government forces in a decisive showdown, according media reports on Monday.

Read more: Libya’s Haftar 'mobilising mercenaries' for key battle in Sirte

Tensions have soared in the region, with Egypt, who back Haftar with arms and logistical support, calling Sirte a "red line" for the GNA's forces. President Adel Fattah al-Sisi says an attack on the city by the GNA constitutes sufficient grounds for intervention.

The Tripoli-based government, who have denounced Sisi’s warning, have described Egyptian intervention as a "continuation of the war on the Libyan people".

Turkey has vowed to back the GNA's push for Sirte and demanded the evacuation of Haftar’s forces from the city for a "sustainable ceasefire".

Agencies contributed to this report

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