ANKARA/ISTANBUL, July 1 (Reuters) - A Turkish business delegation is set to visit Libya within two weeks to assess how Turkey’s companies and banks can help rebuild the war-torn country and secure its energy needs, two people familiar with the plan told Reuters.
Ankara has made increasingly clear its ambitions for lasting cooperation with Tripoli on oil exploration, construction, banking and manufacturing after its military support helped the Government of National Accord (GNA) reverse a 15-month offensive.
With Turkish help, the internationally recognised GNA halted an assault on Tripoli and in recent months pushed back Khalifa Haftar’s eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA), which is supported by Russia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt.
While fighting continues near the city of Sirte, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s top deputies visited the GNA in Tripoli in mid-June. The sources said politicians could join the upcoming trip by what they called a “committee” of business representatives.
They will craft a business plan and initially focus on meeting Libya’s energy needs and re-building and renewing its infrastructure, the Turkish official and industry official said.
Before Turkey officially threw its support behind the GNA in November, Turkish builders had worked on projects in Libya. The backlog of Turkish contract work there amounts to $16 billion, a sector official said in January.
The Turkish official said “it may take time” for Tripoli to make the payments.
Turkish state lenders will help set up Libya’s banking system and regulator and work is being done to funnel payments through Turkey for key Libyan imports, the official added.
“Concrete steps could be taken in the period ahead,” the person said, requesting anonymity.
Separately, a meeting between Libyan business heads and Turkish manufacturers of food, medicine and other goods is expected to be rescheduled “soon” after a coronavirus-related delay, said Murtaza Karanfil, head of the Turkey-Libya business council at the Foreign Economic Relations Board of Turkey.
“As Libya lacks a strong manufacturing base, they thought these industries could be a good starting point to alleviate production issues,” he told Reuters. (Writing by Jonathan Spicer; Editing by Daren Butler ande Nick Macfie)