Vienna meeting backs Libya's national accord gov't

Vienna meeting backs Libya's national accord gov't

Joint communique says Libya’s Government of National Accord intends to submit arms embargo exemption to UN committee soon

VIENNA (AA) – The international community has pledged support for Libya’s Government of National Accord, which intends to submit an arms embargo exemption to the UN Libya Sanctions Committee soon.

Foreign Ministers from Turkey, Algeria, Chad, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Jordan, Italy, Malta, Morocco, Niger, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sudan, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, the U.K, the U.S, the EU, UN, the League of Arab States, and the African Union released a joint communique at the end of their meeting on Libya in Vienna Monday, according to which they expressed "strong" support for the Libyan people and hinted their support for 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 materiel to counter UN-designated terrorist groups and to combat Da’esh throughout the country. We will fully support these efforts while continuing to reinforce the UN arms embargo,” it said.

“The GNA is the sole legitimate recipient of international security assistance and is charged with preserving and protecting Libya’s resources for the benefit of all its people.

“While deploring recent oil and arms transactions made outside the scope of the GNA, we reaffirm our commitment to upholding the arms embargo and measures concerning illicit oil exports, established pursuant to UN Security Council 2278 and other relevant resolutions,” it added.​

The Pentagon indicated Monday it had not yet begun planning how it might participate in providing weapons to Libya.

"We stand ready to play our role in that," Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said, "but as I'm aware at this moment, that communique was just issued, and there haven't been specific marching orders given to us."

State Department spokesman John Kirby said there was no set timeline for issuing weapons.

On the other hand, White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters that the ultimate goal is “to build up the capacity of the Government of National Accord so they can begin doing this work of fighting ISIL [Daesh] and securing their own country themselves.”

Noting U.S. military’s unilateral airstrikes against Daesh targets in the war-torn country Earnest said the airstrikes would continue alongside all other efforts that Washington shoulders with the international community.

“So we've used the president's ordered military action in Libya against ISIL targets in the past and that continues to be an option,” Earnest added. “But that is not a substitute for building the capacity of a central government in Libya.”

The U.S. already has quietly deployed special operations teams into Libya to gather intelligence on the presence of Daesh, and to determine which rebel forces could be willing partners in the fight against Daesh. Pentagon estimates that there are as many as 3,000 Daesh militants in the country​

The communiqué also reaffirmed its support for the implementation of the Libyan Political Agreement of Skhirat, Morocco signed on Dec. 17, 2015.

"We share the Libyan people’s aspiration to transform Libya into a secure and democratic state, achieve unity and reconciliation, and restore the rule of law and state authority. We are committed to supporting all efforts of the GNA in order to enhance political outreach throughout the country," it added.

The U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni and Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj‎ held a joint news conference in Vienna.

Kerry said it was "imperative" to back the Government of National Accord. He said humanitarian aid to Libya must be accelerated. "The international community will support the Presidency Council as it seeks exemption from the UN arms embargo to acquire those weapons and bullets needed to fight Daesh and other terrorist groups," he added.

Gentiloni said government is needed to stabilize Libya. "With stabilization, we can fight terrorism; we can assure development to a country with rich potentialities but with a strong humanitarian crisis now. We can tackle the migration issue; we can develop the resources of Libya. Without stabilization, we risk tensions, divisions, and intra-Libyans fights," he added.

Al-Sarraj‎ also said: "We’ve called for lifting the embargo on arms to support the joint command and the military establishment. We’ve called for equipping and arming the presidential guard, which will have a clear role in fighting extremism and securing key institutions, and it’s not a substitute to police or the army."

Al-Sarraj‎ also called international community to support Libya. "We’re not talking about international intervention; we’re talking about international assistance and training, equipping our troops and training our youth," he added.

Libya has been locked in a state of turmoil since 2011, when a bloody uprising ended with the ouster and death of longtime strongman, Muammar Gaddafi.

Since then, the country’s stark political divisions have yielded two rival seats of government, one in Tobruk and another in Tripoli, each of which boasts its own military capacity and legislative assembly.

Late last year, Libya’s rival governments signed an UN-backed agreement to establish a unity government in an effort to resolve the country’s six-year political standoff.

In March, members of the unity government, led by prime minister-designate Faiz al-Sarraj, arrived in Tripoli from Tunisia with a view to assuming authority from the two rival governments.

The Tobruk-based government, however, has refused to hand over power to the new unity government until the latter is given a vote of confidence by the Tobruk-based parliament.

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