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Even legal arms supplies to Libya may lead to weapons’ spread around region — diplomat

February 19, 2015, 9:17 UTC+3

Russia says its ready to discuss a possibility of easing the ban on weapons supplies to Libya after Libya’s foreign minister asked UNSC for military assistance in its anti-terrorist efforts

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Smoke over Tripoli after militia rockets hit a fuel tank

Smoke over Tripoli after militia rockets hit a fuel tank


UNITED NATIONS, February 19. /TASS/. Russia is ready to discuss at the United Nations Security Council a possibility of easing the ban on weapons supplies to Libya, Russia’s Permanent Representative at the United Nations Vitaly Churkin said on Wednesday.

At the same time, he warned that even legal arms supplies to the Libyan government might trigger weapons’ spreading throughout Libya and the entire region.

Earlier, Libya’s Foreign Minister, Mohammed al-Deiri urged the United Nations Security Council members to lift the arms supplies ban imposed on Libya in 2011 and to extend military assistance in its anti-terrorist efforts.

Churkin said that arms supplies to the Libyan government were quite possible but only on condition they were authorized by a special sanctions committee of the Security Council. In his words, the Libyan authorities were claiming it was fettering their hands. "As a matter of fact, there is certain sense in that, since illegal arms supplies were established back in 2011 with the help of the United States. Various opposition groups, terrorist and semi-terrorist groups are receiving weapons illegally, whereas the government feels restrained," he said.

"We are ready to discuss possible ways out of this situation, including though a simplified system of arms supplies to the Libyan government. But we know episodes when weapons meant for the Libyan government were spread all around the country. This issue needs thorough scrutiny," he said.

He confirmed that at the Security Council meeting Jordan had initiated a draft resolution entirely lifting the arms supplies ban. "I think this is a serious resolution and an important initiative. I have reassured Jordan’s delegation and other members of the Security Council that we are ready for a constructive work," he told journalists. "We are confident that in this situation there is a serious necessity and a possibility for the Security Council to take consolidated efforts, because we all want stability in Libya."

The Russian diplomat noted that Arab countries wanted the Security Council to waste no time and pass this resolution. Much will depend on the outcome of the mission of Bernardino Leon, the Special Representative of the United Nation Secretary-General for Libya and Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), who is negotiating the establishment of a government of national accord in Libya.

"Let us wait and see," Churkin said. "We will work very tightly in the next several days. We hope Mr. Leon’s mission will be successful. There is hope he will manage to help form the government of national accord in the shortest span of time," he said. "It will be an important achievement in any case. But I would rather agree with our colleagues that it will not solve the problem. The phenomenon of terrorist will still be there. It requires heightened attention of the international community."

Libya’s Foreign Minister, Mohammed al-Deiri said on Wednesday at a session of the UN Security Council that his country needed military assistance on the part of the international community to fight with Isis and other terrorist grouping that are operating on its territory. He said the international community was to reaffirm its commitments to the people of Libya in what concerned restructuring of the national Armed Forces.

In the first place, it was important to provide the Libyan army with weaponry so that it could put up resistance to the terrorist threat, Al-Deiri said. This objective definitely required a lifting of the embargo on delivery of arms to the Libyan government.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry told the Security Council that the latter should authorize a naval blockade of Libyan territorial waters so as to prevent the delivery or weapons to the Islamic radicals acting in the country by sea.

The Russian diplomat said he did not rule out Russia might take part in an international anti-terrorist coalition in Libya, in particular in securing a naval blockade of Libyan territorial waters so as to prevent the delivery or weapons to the Islamic radicals.

"From the political point of view, I would not rule out this. But this is not my decision," he told TASS after the Security Council meeting. "If Russia could take part in the operation by Somalia’s coast, why can’t it take part in an operation in the Mediterranean?" He drew attention to the fact that air strikes at Islamic State terrorists in Libya had been delivered by Egypt,which with Russia had traditionally friendly relations.

He said Russia did not take part in the United States-led anti-terrorist coalition in Syria, since that operation had not been authorized by the United Nations Security Council and was held without Damascus’ consent. "You know, the Americans and their coalitions, regrettably, decided to act bypassing the Security Council and the Syrian government. These two factors make it impossible for us to join their coalition," the Russian diplomat underscored.

But as a matter of fact, in his words, Russia helped Iraq and Syria more profoundly than "some other countries." "It helped them to fight against terrorists. For instance, we supplied weapons to the Iraqi government while the United States were deciding what to do only ‘on paper,’" the Russian diplomat said.

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