Russia, Italy to hold consultations on Libya

The Address | Benghazi – Libya

ROME – Russia on Tuesday announced it would in several weeks hold “special consultations” with Italy on a possible solution to the ongoing conflict in Libya.

Speaking at a news conference in Rome following a meeting between Russian and Italian foreign and defense ministers, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Moscow was particularly interested in clarifying the details of a new EU mission to monitor compliance with the arms embargo on Libya.

“Our position is that it is necessary to respect the decisions of the [UN] Security Council and not to take steps that would be considered disrespectful to the prerogatives of this supreme UN body in the field of maintaining international peace and security,” said Lavrov.

On Monday, EU members agreed in principle to set up a new naval mission to monitor compliance with the UN arms embargo on Libya.

The new mission will operate in the air and sea, as well as through satellites, to ensure all countries respect the ban on providing arms to the parties involved in the Libyan conflict.

Lavrov underlined the need for the UN Security Council to authorize the decision, recalling the ouster of late ruler Muammar Gaddafi in an international operation in 2011, that he said took advantage of a UN-sanctioned no-fly zone above the country.

“We are well aware of the legitimate, understandable reasons pushing Italy to bring order to this issue and the reasons why the EU countries are interested in ensuring that weapons are not delivered to Libya via illegal routes. I am convinced that by contacting the Security Council, they will be able to get a solution that will suit them and ensure compliance with international law, including the prerogatives of the Security Council,” Lavrov said.

In turn, Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said the new mission was created based on a UN mandate to monitor the implementation of the arms embargo.

Maio said the mission would employ satellites to monitor the country from space, adding that navy ships would function as a “barrier” against arms deliveries along its coasts. He added that — should Libya agree — it would also involve patrols along the country’s land borders.

“Air and sea patrols will be carried out by military ships and aircraft, but the approach will be non-military. If we do not allow the import of weapons, the two sides will be forced to start a dialogue,” he stressed.



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