US, Europe, Middle East top diplomats discuss ways to stabilize Libya

Chief diplomats from about 20 countries are meeting Monday in Vienna to shore up support for Libya's fragile UN-backed government and discuss ways to stabilize the country that has become a hub for extremists and people smugglers.

The power vacuum created by Libya's two rival administrations since mid-2014, each backed by competing militias, and the chaos following the toppling of dictator Moamer Gaddafi in 2011 has enabled Islamic State extremists to establish a foothold in the North African oil-producing country.

Security issues top the agenda at the talks hosted by US Secretary of State John Kerry and Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni.

"We are not asking for foreign boots on the ground, but we are requesting assistance with training, and lifting the arms embargo on Libya," the country's premier-designate, Fayez Serraj, wrote Sunday in Britain's Daily Telegraph.

Serraj is scheduled to attend the Vienna talks, along with chief diplomats from the European Union, North Africa and the Middle East, as well as the UN veto powers.

In March, a national unity government formed under a UN-sponsored peace deal revived international hopes that it will be able to re-establish stability and stop Islamic State's expansion.

Based in Tripoli, it has limited influence elsewhere in the country.

Some Western countries have been mulling airstrikes against Islamic State in Libya, but UN Libya envoy Martin Kobler has warned that such operations would be premature if there is no effective Libyan army that can take control of bombed cities.

European countries are keen to see a stable Libya because they want to stop the lawlessness that has turned the country into a major hub for migrants seeking to go to Europe.

Kobler estimates that at least 100,000 people could cross the Mediterranean from Libya to southern Europe this year.

The officials will also hold crisis talks on Syria on Tuesday, and are expected to broker talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan after the recent flare-up of violence between the two countries.

Last update: Tue, 28/06/2016 - 17:25
Author: 

More from World

Watchdog: Over 60 per cent of east Aleppo captured by Syrian regime

More than 60 per cent of the rebel enclave of eastern Aleppo has now fallen to Syrian government forces, a...

Nine dead, 25 missing after fire at California warehouse party

At least nine people died and 25 were missing after a fire broke out during a party at a warehouse in the US state...

Car bombing in Baghdad kills at least four, injures 10

A car bomb exploded Saturday in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, killing at least four civilians, police and witnesses...

Egypt's top court revokes police power on protests

Egypt's top court has quashed power granted to police to ban street protests.

Indonesian police release seven accused of treason

Indonesian police on Saturday released seven people, including two former generals and a rock star, a day after they...