British daily says Turkey ready for mediation between rival Libyan forces

British daily The Guardian in an exclusive interview with Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said the Turkish premier had signalled that his country was ready to act as a mediator to broker an early ceasefire in Libya if the conflicting parties made such a request.

"We will take steps to do that within the framework of NATO, the Arab League and African Union. We can never ignore the democratic rights and liberties called for by the people of Libya, and change and transformation can never be delayed or postponed," Erdogan told the Guardian.

Erdogan told the daily that talks were still under way with Gaddafi’s government and the Transitional National Council, adding that Turkey was about to take over the running of the rebel-held Benghazi harbour and airport to facilitate humanitarian aid, in agreement with NATO.

The Guardian recalled that the Turkish government, which it said was playing an increasingly important regional role and had the second largest armed forces within NARO, has been at the centre of the argument within the alliance over Libya, publicly clashing with the French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

"We have been opposed to any unilateral action and we could never accept appeals such as that by the French minister for a new crusade. But for Turkey, it’s out of the question to shoot at Libyan people or drop bombs on the Libyan people. Turkey’s role will be to withdraw from Libya as soon as possible and restore the unity and integrity of the country based on the democratic demands of the people," Erdogan told the Guardian.

"I’m afraid we could see another Afghanistan or a second Iraq emerging. When western forces entered Afghanistan nearly 10 years ago, people were talking of it being over in days, and people said the same in Iraq. But a million have died and a civilisation has as good as collapsed. We don’t want to see a similar picture in Libya," the Guardian quoted Erdogan as saying.

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