EU's Mogherini says has not given up hope of U.N. Libya backing

Reuters News
Posted: May 08, 2015 1:19 PM

FLORENCE, Italy (Reuters) - European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said on Friday she had not given up hope of winning backing from the United Nations Security Council for international intervention in Libya to help stop the flow of migrant boats.

Mogherini has proposed sending European military teams to help stabilize Libya if a ceasefire agreement can be agreed between the two rival governments which are currently struggling for power in conditions of near anarchy.

For any outside military mission to succeed, consent would be needed from both a Libyan government and the Security Council, where diplomats say both Russia and China, which have the power of veto, may be reluctant.

Mogherini, who is due to address the Security Council on Monday, acknowledged that both agreement in Libya and the backing of the United Nations would be difficult to obtain. But she said she believed the Security Council could be persuaded to support the proposals.

"The option of a Security Council resolution is not impossible," she told a conference in Florence, adding that she would be counting on support from Lithuania, which holds the council's rotating chair in May, and on Spain, which is also a non-permanent member this year.

"There is a new and very important role for Europe to play," she said.

Spain and Lithuania are both EU member states.

The breakdown of order in Libya since former leader Muammar Gaddafi was toppled in 2011 has allowed traffickers to send tens of thousands of migrants to Europe in often unseaworthy vessels. Thousands have drowned in the attempt.

Pressure for action on the migrant crisis intensified last month after around 800 people drowned when the overloaded fishing boat they were packed into capsized and sank some 70 miles off the coast of Libya.

(Reporting by James Mackenzie; Editing by Gareth Jones)