UN Security Council to meet Wednesday on Libyan crisis

AP News
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Posted: Feb 17, 2015 5:30 PM

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. Security Council prepared to meet in emergency session on Libya on Wednesday, as permanent council members expressed initial support for a resolution on a response to the country's crisis.

Egypt is pressing the council to take action after the Islamic State group posted a video of the beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians. Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi said in a radio interview aired Tuesday that creating a U.N.-backed coalition was the best course of action to rid Libya of Islamic extremists.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry laid out Egypt's proposals for a resolution: Lift international restrictions on arms to Libya's "legitimate government" so it can defend itself, tighten restrictions on the flow of weapons and money to terrorist groups in Libya, support a peaceful political process toward the country's stability and end the occupation of Tripoli by militants. Militants should disband and disarm, he added.

Shoukry told reporters that Egypt and Libya were putting the elements of a resolution together "in full coordination and mutual support." He warned, however, that a "political settlement will not eradicate the threat that exists in terms of militant radical organizations that have an ideology of destruction."

The foreign minister recommended a coalition that is more expanded than the one now fighting the Islamic State group in Iraq. He did not rule out international troops on the ground as a consideration, and he indicated that Egypt will continue its airstrikes inside Libya against militants. "We will take those measures that are necessary to defend Egypt's interests and to protect our people," he said.

At a meeting Tuesday between Shoukry and the five permanent council members, "we agreed we would be working together on a draft resolution," Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters. He did not give details except to say this would be a different approach than the current coalition that is combating IS in Syria and Iraq.

"They want a resolution of support in the Security Council ... and we're there to support it and do the right thing," Churkin said.

A U.S. official said Ambassador Samantha Power met with Shoukry and "emphasized the deep U.S. concern about extremist groups operating in Libya," but there was no indication of her reaction to Egypt's proposals. The official spoke on terms of anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak otherwise.

The other permanent council members, China, France and Britain, did not comment, with some saying it was too early.

Council members also were meeting with Libya's foreign minister Tuesday.

Shoukry, Libyan Foreign Minister Mohammed al Dairi and the U.N. envoy to Libya are expected to brief the council Wednesday afternoon in a public meeting.

Diplomats said Libya would need to submit a letter to the U.N. secretary-general and the Security Council requesting any U.N. support. Omar Ihwainish, information officer for Libya's mission to the U.N., told The Associated Press that "there's nothing so far" on any request from his government to the U.N. on the crisis.

Shoukry said he believes Libya's formal request will come when its foreign minister addresses the council Wednesday.

Iraq's U.N. Ambassador Mohamed Alhakim told reporters that the Arab Group would be meeting soon and that individual ambassadors had already called the Egyptian ambassador in support. Alhakim said he "absolutely" supports a plan for U.N. action.

Human Rights Watch called on Libya and the United Nations to catch and prosecute the militants who committed the beheadings, calling them a war crime. It called on the U.N. to create an investigative mechanism or appoint a special rapporteur for Libya, and for the International Criminal Court to examine the killings.