The United States and Italy on Sunday led an international diplomatic push to get Libya's warring factions to sign a deal to form a unity government, hoping it will stop the spread of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militancy in the North African country.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his Italian counterpart, Paolo Gentiloni, flanked by United Nation's envoy Martin Kobler and 18 delegates began a meeting to press the Libyan camps to move forward after a year of U.N. talks.
Delegations from Libya's two rival governments last week agreed to Dec. 16 as a date to sign the deal, but opponents are resisting. Past deadlines have slipped while wide areas of the large oil-producing country splintered into fiefs of rival armed factions.
A senior State Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the one-day meeting would endorse the Libyan agreement, hoping it would give Libyans confidence to move ahead knowing they had the support of the international community.
"Libyans wanted to know that if they took this step the international community would support them on it," the official told reporters.
The agreement would allow a new Libyan government to ask for international military assistance to fight Islamic State's growing presence, which has mushroomed since a West-backed rebellion toppled Muammar Qaddafi four years ago.
"Libyans want to fight back, they want international help in fighting back," the official said. "That is up to the Libyans, ultimately, but we expect that they will do so, and the outsiders will then help with training and equipping in appropriate ways."
With Libya less than 300 km across the Mediterranean Sea, Italy has sought to focus international attention on Libya since last month's deadly attacks in Paris.
With around 3,000 fighters, ISIS has taken over the city of Sirte. It has attacked a hotel and a prison in Tripoli, oil fields and military checkpoints, and released a video of it beheading 21 Egyptian Christians on a Libyan beach.
"We must show that governments can act faster and more effectively than the terrorist threat," Gentiloni said on Saturday.
The recognized government and elected House of Representatives have operated only in the east of Libya since last year, when the capital Tripoli was seized by a faction that set up its own government. Each side is backed by competing alliances of former anti-Qaddafi rebels.
The U.N. proposal calls for a presidential council with the House of Representatives as the legislature alongside a second consultative chamber, the State Council.
The presidential council could form a government in 30 days once a deal is signed and that would be ratified by parliament and backed by the U.N. Security Council resolution.
But with Libya already fragmented, questions remain about how opponents and armed factions which might reject a deal will react to what they will see as an unrepresentative Tripoli government, and how they can be brought onboard after.
"Ending negotiations will strengthen hardliners; Granting recognition to a government that has insufficient backing will condemn it to irrelevance," International Crisis Group said in a statement before the Rome meeting.
نستخدم ملفات الكوكيز لنسهل عليك استخدام مواقعنا الإلكترونية ونكيف المحتوى والإعلانات وفقا لمتطلباتك واحتياجاتك الخاصة، لتوفير ميزات وسائل التواصل الاجتماعية ولتحليل حركة المرور لدينا...اعرف أكثر