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Paris, Ankara declare ceasefire in war of words

·2-min read

France and Turkey have agreed a "verbal ceasefire" after months of rancorous exchanges that strained relations between the Nato allies.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron met on the sidelines of the Nato summit this week, following rows on international crises such as Libya, Syria and Nagorno-Karabakh that led to bitter personal diatribes from the Turkish leader.

Speaking on television on Friday, France's Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian welcomed the change in tone but said it had to be matched by more concrete steps from Ankara.

"There is a kind of verbal ceasefire. That's good but it's not enough. The verbal ceasefire does not mean acts, and we expect Turkey to act on sensitive subjects," said Le Drian, citing Libya, Syria and the Eastern Mediterranean, where France has backed EU members Greece and Cyprus who are angry over Turkish oil and gas exploration in the region.

Le Drian also said France was particularly eager to work with Turkey over Libya, where Ankara has sent troops backed by thousands of Syrian militia forces to bolster the UN-backed government.

"We will see if President Erdogan has changed more than just his words but also his actions," Le Drian said.

President Macron warned earlier this year that Turkey would try to meddle in France's 2022 presidential election.

He has suggested that Ankara's unilateral moves on the international stage and its purchase of S-400 air defence missile systems from Russia have contributed to a "brain death" of Nato, where Turkey is a key member.

A new law targeting extremism passed by the French government after a series of Islamist attacks also sparked Erdogan's anger, with the Turkish leader accusing France of Islamophobia.

Erdogan last year said Macron needed "mental checks" and expressed hope that France would "get rid of" Macron as soon as possible.

In another sign of warming ties, France this week removed Turkey from its red list of countries off-limits for non-essential travel, effectively allowing fully vaccinated French tourists to holiday there.

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