UPDATE WITH MORE REMARKS
By Erdogan Cagatay Zontur
ANKARA (AA) - The U.S. killing of a top Iranian general last week threatens peace throughout the region, Turkey’s foreign minister said Monday.
“The killing of [Qasem] Soleimani poses a serious risk to peace in the region,” Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters at the Foreign Ministry’s Directorate for EU Affairs in the capital Ankara.
“We will work with other countries to reduce tensions between the U.S. and Iran,” Cavusoglu added.
To this end, Cavusoglu said, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has made phone calls to his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron, Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani, Iraqi counterpart Barham Salih and Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, and is set to speak with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Noting that Russian President Vladimir Putin will pay an official visit to Turkey on Wednesday, Cavusoglu said: "Our president and Putin will address these issues personally. We all have a common concern that Iraq should not turn into a conflict zone for other countries."
Soleimani, the head of Iran's Revolutionary Guards' elite Quds force, was killed along with Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the senior commander of Iraq’s Hashd al-Shaabi force, and eight others on Jan. 3.
- 'We have to stop Libya conflict'
Turning to the conflict in Libya, Cavusoglu said: "There will be no end to the war in Libya if we do not stop it."
Since the ouster of late leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, two seats of power have emerged in Libya: Khalifa Haftar in eastern Libya supported mainly by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, and the Government of National Accord (GNA) in the capital Tripoli, which enjoys UN and international recognition.
Turkey's parliament last week passed a motion allowing the deployment of troops in Libya for one year in order to respond to threats from illegitimate armed groups and other terror groups targeting both countries' national interests.
The motion also aims to provide security in Libya in the face of any possible mass migration and to provide Libyans with humanitarian aid. Turkish forces will be able to launch an "operation and [military] intervention" to protect Turkey's interests and prevent future irreparable situations, said the motion.
- Turkish, Libyan permission needed for EastMed
Cavusoglu also criticized plans for the EastMed pipeline project, saying: “If Israel wants to transfer oil or natural gas extracted from its continental shelf and territorial waters to third countries across our continental shelf, then Israel must negotiate with us.”
Cavusoglu also stressed that permission from both Turkey and Libya is required for EastMed to cross the Mediterranean towards Europe.
Last week Greece, Israel, and Greek Cypriot administration inked an agreement for the EastMed pipeline project.
The project envisions a 1,900-km (1,180-mile) natural gas pipeline through the Mediterranean Sea from Israel to the Greek island of Crete, Greece's mainland, and then to Italy.