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Turkey says will work with Italy for Libya peace, excoriates EU

Turkey and Italy will continue to work for a lasting peace and political solution in Libya, Turkey’s foreign minister said Friday, while slamming the European Union’s naval operation in the Mediterranean that tries to enforce a U.N. arms embargo on Libya.

Mevlut Cavusoglu made the comments during a joint news conference with his Italian counterpart Luigi Di Maio. Italy and Turkey support the Tripoli-based government against the Libyan National Army.

“We will continue to work with Italy for a last peace and a solution-oriented political process,” Cavusoglu told reporters, praising Italy for what he described as its “balanced stance” on Libya.

“Operation Irini is not balanced. It has never met any of the (Tripoli-based) Government of National Accord’s requests and concerns,” Cavusoglu said.

Cavusoglu’s comments come amid growing tensions between Turkey and France over Libya. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday that the military alliance would investigate an incident between Turkish warships and a French naval vessel in the Mediterranean, as France accused Turkey of repeated violations of the U.N. arms embargo on Libya and branded Ankara an obstacle to securing a cease-fire there.

Di Maio said neither side in the Libyan conflict should have access to arms, adding that Rome welcomed indications that the sides were willing to negotiate.

He also defended the EU naval operation, describing it as “balanced.”

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