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Libyan PM, ministers due in Turkey on Monday

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Libyan Prime Minister Abdelhamid Dbeibah delivers a speech outside the Centre for Disease Control in the capital Tripoli, Libya, April 10, 2021. (Mahmud TURKIA / AFP)

A large Libyan government delegation led by Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibah will travel Monday to Turkey, a country playing a key role in the North African nation, Turkey’s foreign ministry said.

Dbeibah will be joined by 14 ministers and the head of the armed forces, a ministry official told AFP on Sunday, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan due to receive the delegation at the presidential palace in Ankara. 

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Analysts say the size of the delegation is an indication of the importance placed by Tripoli on its relations with Ankara, which has troops deployed in Libya under a deal with a new unity government led by Dbeibah. 

Turkish state news agency Anadolu said officials from the two sides were expected to discuss boosting bilateral ties as well as treaties signed between Libya and Turkey. 

The presence of Turkish troops in Libya has angered some Western countries, with the interim US ambassador to the UN calling in January for them to withdraw immediately, along with Russian forces.

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Dbeibah was selected earlier this year through a UN-backed inter-Libyan dialogue to lead the country to national elections set for December 2021.

His government replaces two rival administrations based in Tripoli and the country’s east, the latter loyal to military strongman Khalifa Hafter, whose forces tried but failed to seize the capital in a 2019-20 offensive.

The rival Libyan authorities have given their backing to the new administration, adding to tentative hopes that the country can exit a decade of crisis.

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It has been mired in chaos since dictator Moamer Kadhafi was deposed and killed in a 2011 NATO-backed uprising.

Russia was one of several powers backing Haftar in his offensive against Tripoli, while Turkish support to the last administration in the capital helped beat back the strongman’s advance.  

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