US vows to arm Libya in fight against IS

The US and other world powers have said they are ready to supply Libya’s internationally recognised government with weapons to counter Islamic State and other terrorists.

The decision is stated in a communique prepared for the end of top-level talks on Libya and obtained by The Associated Press ahead of its release.

Libyia is under a UN embargo imposed to keep lethal arms away from terrorists and rival militias vying for power.

However, the communique signed by the US, the four other permanent UN Security Council members, and the more than 15 other nations participating at the talks are “ready to respond to the Libyan government’s requests for training and equipping” government forces.

The world powers aim to push for exemptions to the arms embargo.

“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 material to counter UN-designated terrorist groups and to combat Daesh throughout the country,” said the communique, using an alternate name for Islamic State.

It continued: “We will fully support these efforts while continuing to reinforce the UN arms embargo.”

US secretary of state John Kerry and top officials from more than 20 other nations have been conferring on ways to strengthen Libya’s fledgling government.

The aim is to give the administration more muscle in fighting IS radicals and end its rivalry with a group to the east claiming legitimacy.

Before the meeting, however, German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier warned against undue optimism.

“The key question is whether Libya remains a place where terrorism, criminal human smuggling and instability continues to expand, or if we are able, together with the government of national unity to recover stability,” he told reporters ahead of the meeting. “That is an open question.”

Libya descended into chaos after the toppling and death of Muammar Gaddafi five years ago, soon turning into a battleground of rival militias vying for powers.

More recently, the power vacuum has allowed Islamic State radicals to expand their presence, giving them a potential base in a country separated from Europe only by a relatively small stretch of the Mediterranean Sea.

Also worrying for Europe is the potential threat of a mass influx of refugees amassing in Libya, now that the earlier route from Turkey into Greece has essentially been shut down.


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