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Updated: EU resolves to set up new mission enforcing Libyan arms embargo



European Union (EU) Foreign Ministers, on Monday resolved to set up a new mission to monitor the failing UN embargo on arms flowing into conflict-torn Libya in a surprise breakthrough at talks in Brussels.

The Germany Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, said that it was a major support for the Berlin peace process, which at its core was about keeping the parties in the civil war away from their backers.

According to Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Maio, the new mission is to involve aerial, land and naval assets. The details are to be worked out within a short time.

However, key to the breakthrough was the inclusion of measures to allay concerns that the presence of European ships in the Mediterranean Sea would create a pull factor for migrants seeking to reach the Europe from Libya.

Maio said that the measures included deploying the vessels in the Eastern Mediterranean, away from migrant crossing routes, as well as pledging to suspend the naval operations if a surge in attempted crossings was detected.

The Austrian Foreign Minister, Alexander Schallenberg, said that it would be a totally new mission replacing the EU’s currently suspended `Operation Sophia`.

However, the EU pledged to do its utmost to prevent arms from entering Libya after an international conference on the conflict in January, raising the prospect of reactivating `Operation Sophia`.

Meanwhile, the mission’s official purpose was to break up people-smuggling networks and monitor the embargo, but its naval vessels also picked up migrants stranded at sea, in line with international maritime obligations.

However, the mission’s purpose was suspended in 2019, over a spat about where rescued people should disembark.

Migration was a domestically sensitive issue for many EU governments.

Vienna had been particularly speaking in its concerns about bringing back the suspended mission.

“We want a military mission and not a humanitarian mission.

“And this mission has a focus on the weapons embargo.

“The issue is not whether or not people are being rescued at sea.

“But we don’t want a mission that’s misused by traffickers for their business model,” Schallenberg said.

According to an EU diplomat, Josep Borrell, setting up a new mission will take much longer than reactivating Sophia, which can be done within a day.

International leaders promise to uphold a UN arms embargo, enable a peace process and end external interference and military support for fighting factions in Libya at a conference in Berlin.

The North African country has been in turmoil since the 2011 overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi, and has become a battleground for rival proxy forces that has drawn in foreign powers.

According to Russia’s top diplomat, Sergei Lavrov, the situation on the ground remains fundamentally unchanged following January peace talks in Berlin.

Meanwhile dozens of foreign ministers and representatives of international organizations held follow-up talks on the conflict in Libya.

In April, the Eastern forces led by Gen. Khalifa Haftar, had been trying to seize the capital Tripoli, from the UN-recognised Government of National Accord.

Meanwhile, Haftar already controls large areas in Eastern and Southern Libya.

Edited By: Yahaya Isah/Emmanuel Yashim

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Yahaya Isah: is a graduate and a professionally trained journalist, with experience in national news reporting/editing and verification at the News Agency of Nigeria. NNN is a Nigerian online news portal that publishes breaking news in Nigeria, and across the world. Our journalists are honest, fair, accurate, thorough and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting news in the best interest of the public, because truth is the cornerstone of journalism and they strive diligently to ascertain the truth in every news report. Contact: editor[at]

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April 2020