UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has requested, in a phone conversation with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, for Turkish troops to be deployed as part of the European Union's force to help stop inter-communal violence in the Central African Republic (CAR), Today's Zaman reported.
Ban called Erdogan on Monday evening to discuss the latest developments in the African country, which has suffered a long and bloody conflict between local Christians and Muslims. The conflict began in March when Muslim Seleka rebels seized power in the majority Christian country. They have since been forced out of power, opening the way for brutal reprisals by Christian militia against the Muslim minority. Tens of thousands of people have been killed, according to Human Rights Watch, in violence that 2,000 French and 6,000 African Union peacekeepers have been unable to stop.
France is lobbying hard for the United Nations to deploy peacekeepers in the impoverished country by the summer and a UN resolution is expected in late March. But resources are scarce and Ban has warned any deployment in Central African Republic would take up to six months to organize.
The UN secretary-general reportedly asked Erdogan for Turkish troops to join the EU force that will be dispatched to the CAR as soon as possible in order to bring an end to the worsening violence in the country.
According to reports, Erdogan said that evaluations on Turkey's contribution to the EU force are ongoing and underlined that the deteriorating security situation and deepening humanitarian crisis in the country are affecting the country's Muslim population.
The prime minister also stressed that the interim government that was established in early January after a meeting of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) in the Chadian capital, N'Djamena, should ensure the security of civilians in the country regardless of their ethnic or religious background, according to news reports. He also reportedly pledged Turkey's support and aid for civilians in the CAR during the phone conversation with the UN secretary-general.
The request for troops was first made by the EU's foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, according to Turkish officials. She sent a letter to Ankara inquiring about possible contributions to the planned mission in the CAR.
The EU plans to send a force of at least 500 troops to the CAR. Ban said last week that a minimum of 3,000 further troops and police should be dispatched to the CAR as soon as possible to combat the worsening sectarian violence until what is likely to be a UN peacekeeping force is established.
Prime Minister Erdogan also held separate phone conversations with Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC) President Dervish Eroglu and Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan.
Eroglu reportedly called Erdogan to inform him about recent developments in the new episode of Cyprus' negotiations to reunify the long-divided island. Erdogan said Turkey's constructive contribution to the peace talks would continue in the days ahead, news agencies reported.
According to reports on his phone conversation with Zeidan, Erdogan discussed the situation in Libya and the increasing violence in the region with his Libyan counterpart.
Erdogan extended Turkey's support for Libya, which recently celebrated the third anniversary of the Feb. 17, 2011 uprising that toppled Muammar Gaddafi, who had ruled the country for more than 40 years, saying that Turkey will do its utmost to secure stability in the country.
The two prime ministers also exchanged views on the latest developments in Tripoli, Benghazi and trade ties between Turkey and Libya.
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