Italy readying intervention plans in Libya with US, Britain, France

Italy, along with the United States, Britain and France, is considering military intervention to stabilize Libya, Defence Minister Roberta Pinotti said in an interview published Thursday.

Libya has been in chaos since the NATO-backed ouster of Moamer Gaddafi in 2011, and Islamic State extremists have made inroads there. In December, the UN brokered a deal for a national unity government, but its implementation is at risk.

"We cannot imagine letting the spring go by with the Libya situation still deadlocked. Over the last month we have worked more intensely with the Americans, British and French," Pinotti told the Corriere della Sera paper, in reference to military plans.

"We all agree that we need to avoid uncoordinated action, which did not lead to good results in the past."

She stressed that Western powers will intervene only on a request from Libyan authorities.

"We should not supply fodder for jihadist propaganda, which would want to present any intervention as a Western invasion," Pinotti said, listing the "protection" of the Libyan government and training of its forces as key priorities.

Noting that Italy was preparing for "emergency" situations, she said its navy mission deployed in the Mediterranean to counter migrant smuggling could be used for anti-terrorism purposes and that fighter jets were added to the Sicily air base of Trapani.

In Washington, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said President Barack Obama was discussing the threat of Islamic State in Libya and steps the US could take with European allies.

Earnest declined to discuss what options the US might be considering, amid the rising threat that Islamic State militants might take advantage of a power vacuum in Libya.

The top US military officer, General Joseph Dunford, had recently suggested the US could take decisive military action against Islamic State in Libya, but Earnest said it was too early to announce any "potential actions or escalation."

Last update: Fri, 29/01/2016 - 17:16

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