Turkey, Libya to expand together into Africa

Turkey and Libya have decided to work together to expand into Africa, Libya’s prime minister said in Tripoli on Tuesday just before the two countries signed an agreement to remove visa requirements.

Al-Baghdadi Ali al-Mahmudi, speaking at the Turkey-Libya Business Forum held in Libya, said it was a historical day in relations between Turkey and Libya, which he said were based on fraternal ties. Al-Mahmudi said Turkey and Libya agreed on several topics and removed visa requirements between the two countries. “We will expand into Africa together,” he said.

Turkey and Libya signed an agreement on Wednesday to remove visa requirements for the nationals of the two countries. The agreement was signed by the Turkish and Libyan foreign ministers at a ceremony in Tripoli, which was attended by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Libyan counterpart al-Mahmudi. Several other agreements were signed at the ceremony to boost bilateral investments, transportation and agriculture.

Libyan prime minister praised on Wednesday Turkey’s relations and cooperation with the Arab world. “I would like thank my counterpart, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan for his courage to support and attach importance to the integration among Arab nations relating issues of this region and particularly in Palestinian issue, and to the cooperation between Turkey and the Arab world,” Al-Baghdadi Ali al-Mahmudi told Wednesday a joint press conference after a meeting with Erdogan in Tripoli.

Al-Mahmudi said Libya and Turkey were in full accord to establish political and economic cooperation between the two countries, adding that “the agreements we signed today will lay the foundations for the close political cooperation the region needs.”

The Turkish state minister said the number of projects that Turkish companies undertook in Libya would increase by 50 percent once the issue regarding letters of guarantee was solved. Speaking to reporters at the Radisson Blue Hotel in Libya, State Minister for Foreign Trade Zafer Çağlayan said the lifting of visa procedures between Turkey and Libya was an important development for Turkish businessmen. “Turkish contracting companies have paid 200 million dollars in commission because letters of guarantee were not directly accepted in Libya,” he said. Letters of guarantee taken from state banks would now be enough for Turkish investors to undertake projects in Libya, Çağlayan said. A free trade agreement would be signed between Turkey and Libya, he said. Çağlayan also said a joint investment council would be established between Turkey and Libya.

Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi held talks on Tuesday with Erdoğan on the Middle East peace process and other “international issues,” news agency Jana said.

Kadhafi and Erdoğan also discussed the reform of the United Nations, a constant theme of the Libyan leader, who wants an end to the system in which five nations hold veto power. In a speech to the U.N. General Assembly in September, Kadhafi denounced the Security Council as a “Terror Council” and blamed it for failing to prevent 65 wars since its creation in the aftermath of World War II.

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