World powers to arm Libya unity government

2016-05-16 21:07
FILE: Delegates at a one-day meeting entitled International Support the Libyan Government of National Accord in Tunis. (Fethi Belaid, AFP)

FILE: Delegates at a one-day meeting entitled International Support the Libyan Government of National Accord in Tunis. (Fethi Belaid, AFP)

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Vienna - World powers said on Monday they supported the lifting of an arms embargo on Libya and were ready to supply weapons to the country's new unity government to help it fight the growing threat posed by the Islamic State group.

"The Government of National Accord has voiced its intention to submit appropriate arms embargo exemption requests to the UN Libya Sanctions Committee to procure necessary lethal arms and materiel to counter UN-designated terrorist groups and to combat (ISIS) throughout the country. We will fully support these efforts," read a statement by US Secretary of State John Kerry and 24 other top diplomats after talks in Vienna.

The conference was co-chaired by Kerry and his Italian counterpart Paolo Gentiloni whose country has faced a major influx of migrants from the North African nation braving the perilous sea voyage to reach Europe.

Libya plunged into chaos after the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed Muammar Gaddafi, with rival militias vying to control the oil-rich country.

Taking advantage of the mayhem, the Islamic State group has carved itself a bastion in Libya where it last year overran the Mediterranean coastal city of Sirte, Kadhafi's hometown, transforming it into a training camp for militants.

The recently formed Government of National Accord backed by the international community has been slowly asserting its authority in Tripoli, but it still faces a rival administration in the east.

In a bid to stabilise the country, the fledgling regime of Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj drew up a list of requests for Western partners to assist its forces with arms, training and intelligence.

The demands were presented at the Vienna conference, whose attendees included the UN's special envoy to Libya Martin Kobler and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.

"We look forward to partnering with the GNA and neighbouring countries to tackle the threat posed throughout the Mediterranean and on its land borders by criminal organisations engaged in all forms of smuggling and trafficking, including in human beings," the world powers including Russia and Saudi Arabia said in their statement.

"We are ready to respond to the Libyan government's requests for training and equipping the Presidential Guard and vetted forces from throughout Libya."

Read more on:    nato  |  fayez al-sarraj  |  libya  |  north africa

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