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Powers 'will fully support' Libya government in fight against Islamic State

Published 16/05/2016

Philip Hammond vowed support for the Libyan government
Philip Hammond vowed support for the Libyan government

International powers are set to provide arms and support to the Libyan government to help tackle Islamic State (IS) militants and people smugglers following a summit in Vienna.

A joint communique issued after the talks, attended by Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, signalled that the Libyan government of national accord (GNA) will apply for permission to obtain weapons to fight IS, also known as Daesh, which has made inroads in the troubled North African state.

Mr Hammond said there was "strong support" from the international community for the new Libyan government and prime minister Fayez Serraj.

Libya is under a UN embargo imposed to keep lethal arms away from terrorists and rival militias vying for power, but the GNA is set to apply for an exemption to allow it to equip its forces to take on IS.

The country is also set to receive support in efforts to tackle the human traffickers behind the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean.

The communique said: "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.

"We appreciate the cooperation between Libyan a uthorities, neighbouring countries, and the European Union aimed at dismantling the business model used by the criminal networks, including through building the capacity of the Libyan coast guard.

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

"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 Daesh throughout the country.

"We will fully support these efforts while continuing to reinforce the UN arms embargo."

Mr Hammond said: "There is strong support from the international community for the Libyan political agreement and the new Libyan government of national accord to succeed.

"This meeting has helped to maintain momentum to demonstrate the unity of that support.

"I welcome prime minister Serraj and the presidency council's commitment to tackle the important issues for the people of Libya and deliver the peace and stability they deserve.

"I encouraged prime minister Serraj to continue to establish a unified security command structure and national counter Daesh strategy and resolve the leadership and unity of the Libyan financial institutions, including the central bank, the national oil corporation, and the Libyan investment authority."

Mr Hammond said Britain stands "full square" behind the new government.

He said: "The international community agreed it will consider Libyan requests to train and, crucially, equip new non-sectarian Libyan armed forces so they can protect the people and take the fight to Daesh.

"Vienna participants have pledged to support Libyan requests to the UN for exemptions to the existing arms embargo so it has the weaponry needed to defeat Daesh.

"We also agreed to new requests to build up the capacity of the Libyan coastguard so it is better able to secure its borders and tackle the people smugglers who are driving the movement of migrants across the Mediterranean."

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