January 3, 2020 / 6:12 AM / 21 days ago

Greece, Israel and Cyprus call Turkey's planned Libya deployment 'dangerous escalation'

ATHENS (Reuters) - Turkey’s bill allowing troop deployment in Libya marks a dangerous escalation in the North African country’s civil war and severely threatens stability in the region, a joint statement by Greece, Israel and Cyprus said late on Thursday.

“This decision constitutes a gross violation of the UNSC resolution...imposing an arms embargo in Libya and seriously undermines the international community’s efforts to find a peaceful, political solution to the Libyan conflict,” Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades said in the statement.

Turkish parliament overwhelmingly approved a bill that allows troops to be deployed in Libya, in a move that paves the way for further military cooperation between Ankara and Tripoli but is unlikely to put boots on the ground immediately.

Turkey’s move comes after Ankara and the internationally recognised government of Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj signed two separate agreements in November: one on security and military cooperation and another on maritime boundaries in the eastern Mediterranean, infuriating Greece, Israel, Egypt and Cyprus.

The three countries also called on Turkey to refrain from sending troops to Libya, which would violate Libyan national sovereignty and independence.

Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou; Writing by Ezgi Erkoyun; Editing by Sam Holmes

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