Thu, Feb 19, 2015 - Page 1 News List

Italy, Egypt press UN Security Council for action on Libya

AP and AFP, ROME and CAIRO

A girl holds up a poster with pictures of the 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians beheaded by Islamic State in Libya, as they gather in a gesture to show their solidarity, in front of the Egyptian embassy in Amman on Tuesday.

Photo: Reuters

Italy and Egypt yesterday pressed for swifter action by the UN to find a political solution to Libya’s rapidly deteriorating security situation.

Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs Paolo Gentiloni, speaking in parliament, urged the world to “quicken its pace before it is too late.”

Egypt this week launched airstrikes in Libya after the Islamic State group posted a video of the beheadings of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians there, and yesterday it called on the UN to lift an arms embargo on Libya.

Hours before a UN Security Council emergency meeting, Gentiloni said the UN must “double its efforts” to promote political dialogue among Libyans who are divided among competing militias, Muslim factions and tribal rivalries. He said the only solution to Libya’s problems is a political one.

A meeting on Wednesday last week in Ghadames, Libya, among Libyan factions, appeared to be “a step in the right direction,” Gentiloni said.

Italy is ready to monitor any ceasefire, contribute to peacekeeping efforts, repair infrastructure and provide military training so militias can be folded into the regular army, he said.

With Italian islands only a few hundred kilometers from Libya, Italy has borne the brunt of waves of migrants who are smuggled across the Mediterranean from Libya. Officials say more Libyan chaos could swell the numbers of migrants fleeing war in Syria and other conflicts.

Meanwhile, in talks in New York ahead of the UN Security Council meeting, Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry told fellow diplomats that Libya’s internationally recognized government needed to be better armed to take on Muslim militias who have seized large parts of the country.

Shoukry is calling on the Security Council to “assume its responsibilities in regards to the deteriorating situation in Libya” and to “reconsider the restrictions imposed on the Libyan government on arms deliveries,” the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

The minister also “underlined the need to allow countries in the region... to support the Libyan government’s efforts to impose its authority and restore stability,” it said.

Shoukry, who the ministry said had met with the UN envoys of the five permanent members of the Security Council, also called for steps to be taken “to prevent armed and terrorist groups from obtaining weapons illegally.”

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