Merkel tells Erdogan withdrawing troops from Libya is key

Both leaders vow to support the new interim government in Libya, German government spokesman says

BERLIN, GERMANY - MAY 5:  German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends a virtual event with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte (not pictured) marking Liberation Day, the end of the occupation by Nazi Germany during World War Two, at the Chancellery on May 5, 2021 in Berlin, Germany. Liberation Day is a public holiday in the Netherlands and is celebrated annually on May 5 to mark the nations liberation by Canadian forces, ending the occupation by Nazi Germany during World War II.  (Photo by Annegret Hilse-Pool/Getty Images)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel told Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that the withdrawal of foreign troops from Libya would be an "important signal" of support to the new interim government there, a German government spokesman said.

Libya's new unity government was sworn in on March 15 from two warring administrations that had ruled eastern and western regions, completing a relatively smooth transition of power after a decade of violent chaos.

Turkey backed the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord against the eastern-based Libyan National Army, which was supported by Russia, Egypt, the UAE and France.

Ms Merkel and Mr Erdogan agreed in a video conference to support the interim government of Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibeh in its effort to improve the supply situation for the population and in preparing elections by year-end, the spokesman said.

"The chancellor emphasised that an early start of the withdrawal of foreign soldiers and mercenaries would send an important signal," the spokesman said.

Ms Merkel and Mr Erdogan also discussed international efforts to contain the Covid-19 pandemic as well as regional issues such as the civil war in Syria and international talks about the Cyprus issue, the spokesman said.

FILE PHOTO: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan addresses his supporters during the Grand Congress of his ruling AK Party in Ankara, Turkey, March 24, 2021. REUTERS/Umit Bektas/File Photo
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