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Turkey and Russia postpone talks addressing conflicts in Libya and Syria

Turkey and Russia postponed ministerial-level talks that were expected to focus on Libya and Syria, where they support opposing sides in long-standing conflicts
GNA security forces stop vehicle at checkpoint in Libyan town of Tarhuna last week, after retaking area from Haftar's militias (AFP)

Turkey and Russia postponed ministerial-level talks that were expected to focus on Libya and Syria, where the two countries support opposing sides in long-standing conflicts.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov decided to put off the talks during a phone call on Sunday, the Turkish foreign ministry said in a statement.

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"The two countries’ deputy ministers will continue contacts and talks in the period ahead. Minister-level talks will be held at a later date," Reuters quoted the statement as saying.

Lavrov and Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu had been set to visit Istanbul on Sunday for the discussions. The Russian foreign ministry said discussions will be held as to a future date of the ministers' meeting.

The United Nations said this week that warring sides had begun new ceasefire talks in Libya, where Ankara supports the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), whose forces have in recent weeks repelled an assault on Tripoli by the Libyan National Army (LNA) of militia leader Khalifa Haftar.

Last week, Turkey dismissed an Egyptian proposal for a ceasefire, calling the plan an attempt to rescue Haftar after his forces were defeated in their 14-month campaign to take the capital.

Moscow, along with the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, backs the LNA in the long-running Libyan conflict.

In Syria, Russia supports Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces, while Turkey backs opposition fighters.

Although a Turkish-Russian brokered deal three months ago produced a ceasefire that halted fighting in northwest Syria's Idlib, air strikes have once again hit the region in the last week.