Greek FM visits Libya amid Turkey tensions

Athens says maritime deal between Ankara, GNA violates international law as Erdogan vows to evaluate military backing for Libyan government.

BENGHAZI - Greece's foreign minister visited eastern Libya's Benghazi Sunday, meeting representatives of strongman Khalifa Haftar's administration amid tensions with Turkey following Ankara's recent maritime agreement with Tripoli's unity government.

Turkey will increase its military support to the internationally recognised government of Libya if necessary and it will evaluate ground, air and marine options, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday.

Nikos Dendias landed briefly at Benghazi airport where he met the head of Libya's parallel eastern government Abdullah al-Thani and its foreign minister Abdulhadi Lahweej, a photographer at the scene said.

Lahweej said they discussed the controversial maritime delimitation deal Ankara signed in November with Tripoli's UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), which expanded Turkey's claims over a large gas-rich area of the Mediterranean.

Libya is split between bitterly opposed administrations in the east and west. Since April, forces loyal to eastern-based Haftar have been fighting to seize the capital Tripoli.

Athens says the deal between Ankara and the GNA violates international maritime law and the sovereign rights of Greece and other countries.

On December 10, Greece urged the United Nations to condemn the maritime jurisdiction deal as "disruptive" to regional peace and stability.

On Saturday, Ankara's parliament also approved a military agreement with the GNA, opening the way for more direct Turkish involvement in Libya's conflict.

Haftar in June ordered his forces to target Turkish interests in Libya.

On Saturday evening, Haftar's forces announced they had seized a Turkish freighter registered in Grenada off the coast of eastern Libya.

Dendias was headed to Egypt after his Libya visit, Greek media reported.

Turkey backs the government of Fayez al-Serraj in Libya, which has been split into rival political and military factions since 2011. Ankara has said it could send troops to Libya if the Serraj government makes such a request. The two countries also signed a maritime boundaries deal that has enraged Greece.

Speaking at an event in the northern province of Kocaeli, Erdogan said Turkey will "absolutely" not turn back from the two agreements it signed with Libya.