Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday urged to establish a ceasefire in Libya starting midnight on January 12, according to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov

Lavrov said in a statement that was released on the website of the foreign ministry, “I would like to emphasize the appeal that President Putin and President Erdogan addressed to all the Libyan parties: immediately cease hostilities, and declare a ceasefire from 00:00 on Jan. 12, 2020, i.e. Saturday night to Sunday”.

Lavrov further said that the two leaders, following their talks in Istanbul, stressed the importance of participation of all parties in Libya and its neighbouring countries.

“The foreign ministers and the defence ministers of Russia and Turkey were instructed to continue contacts in the coming days in order to advance the approaches outlined above for the Libyan crisis,” the statement added.

The talks came just hours after Iran fired missiles at US bases in Iraq in retaliation for the assassination of the country’s military commander, ratcheting up tension in the Middle East where Turkey and Russia have sought to take advantage of an American retreat across the region.

The approach by Moscow and Ankara is an echo of their dealings in Syria, where Turkey and Russia, along with Iran, have also set up negotiations that are separate from UN-led efforts to end the fighting.

The Libya agreement underscores the rising clout of Mr Putin in the region as well as his increasingly strong relationship with Mr Erdogan, despite Turkey’s membership of Nato and the two countries’ support for opposing sides in the Syrian civil war.

On Wednesday, Putin launched the TurkStream gas pipeline, a project which will deliver Russian gas to Turkey and Europe.

The war in Libya, where Turkey is sending troops in support of the UN-recognized Government of National Accord, and the conflict in Syria, where Ankara and Moscow are both militarily involved, are also set to dominate the summit as well.

Earlier on Sunday, Erdogan said Turkey was “gradually” sending troops to the North African country under a deal inked with the GNA, a move which stirred opposition from some of its regional neighbours.

Last year, in October, Putin spoke to his Turkish counterpart Erdogan over the phone and invited the Turkish leader to visit Russia soon “for a working visit in the coming days”.

Turkey launched a cross-border assault on Kurdish fighters after the US decided to withdraw troops from Syria, a move that was criticised by the Republicans, with some terming it a “betrayal” of the Kurds.

The Syrian army entered the city of Tabqa in the northern countryside of Raqqa province, as part of its move to enter Kurdish-held areas to counter the ongoing Turkish assault in the region.

More than 50 people, including civilians, have been killed last week as the Turkish offensive in Syria, which was launched by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan aimed at pushing the Kurdish forces away from its border.

(With inputs from agency)