NATO chief in Turkey as Libya seeks solution to crisis
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen arrived in the Turkish capital of Ankara on Monday for a visit, days after NATO took command of military operations in Libya, while a Libyan envoy is set to visit here hours later to seek a solution to the country's crisis, Xinhua reported.
Rasmussen is scheduled to meet Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul expected to attend the meeting. He will then meet Davutoglu separately.
The two sides will discuss issues on the agenda of an informal meeting of NATO members' foreign ministers due on April 14-15, according to an earlier Foreign Ministry statement.
The visit came as NATO continued to enforce a no-fly zone by air strikes and implement arms embargo against Libya with naval vessels patrolling the Mediterranean.
Later in the day, Libyan acting Foreign Minister Abdulati Obeidi will also arrive for talks with Turkish authorities, an official from the Foreign Ministry told Xinhua, unwilling to disclose his name.
The Libyan government is seeking a solution to the country's crisis based on its envoy's stance, Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas said Sunday evening after Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou held talks with Obeidi.
Obeidi will continue to deliver the message from Tripoli to Turkey, he said.
The only Islamic country in NATO, Turkey has repeatedly voiced its opposition since West-led air strikes began. However, after days of negotiation, all NATO member states, including Turkey, agreed to take over command of the military operations against Libya.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu nevertheless stressed on several occasions the NATO operations should be limited to protecting civilians and that Turkey would never point a gun at Libya, worrying about finding in Libya another Afghanistan or Iraq war.
A Turkish ferryboat set off from Libya's Benghazi port to Turkey early on Monday with 420 passengers aboard, including 230 injured taken from the besieged Misrata city and 90 injured and 100 others from Benghazi, Turkey's semi-official Anatolia news agency reported.
The ferry approached the Misrata port last Tuesday but NATO vessels asked the ferry to anchor off Misrata due to security reasons. It had kept waiting 25 miles off Misrata port for five days before being able to dock, Anatolia reported.
Turkey had contacted both the Libyan government and opposition forces to ensure a temporary ceasefire in order to enable the ferryboat to get the injured from Libya, according to the local newspaper Time.