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Turkey Assumes Libya Diplomatic Role for U.S., U.K., FM Says

March 22 (Bloomberg) -- Turkey has assumed diplomatic functions in Libya on behalf of the U.S., U.K., Italy and Australia at their request, Foreign Ministry spokesman Selcuk Unal said.

The Turkish embassy in Tripoli has agreed to perform consular and diplomatic functions for the four nations after they closed their missions and the U.N. began to implement a no-fly zone over Libya, Unal said in a telephone interview today.

The Turkish embassy has played a key role in negotiating the release of foreign journalists held in custody by Libyan forces, including four New York Times journalists delivered to Turkish authorities in Tripoli yesterday, he said.

Turkey maintains contact with Libyan regime authorities both through its embassy in Tripoli and through the Libyan embassy in Ankara, he said.

Dialogue with the Libyan regime must continue, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said today in a speech to his party at parliament. Turkey has doubts over whether military intervention is justified in Libya and wants to encourage a peaceful transition of power from leader Muammar Qaddafi’s rule, he said.

To contact the reporter responsible for this story: Benjamin Harvey in Istanbul at bharvey11@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net.

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