US wants to arm Libyan government

John Kerry

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John Kerry said the unity government was the only way to generate the cohesion needed to defeat IS

The US and other world powers have said they are ready to arm Libya’s UN-backed unity government to help it fight the self-styled Islamic State (IS) group.

Speaking in Vienna, US Secretary of State John Kerry said world powers would back Libya in seeking exemption from a UN arms embargo.

He said IS was a “new threat” to Libya and it was “imperative” it was stopped.

Last month, the Libyan government warned that IS could seize most of the country if it was not halted soon.

Mr Kerry said: “The GNA [Government of National Accord] is the only entity that can unify the country. It is the only way to ensure that vital institutions… fall under representative and acknowledged authority.

“It is the only way to generate the cohesion necessary to defeat Daesh [IS].”

Aid acceleration

Mr Kerry said support for arming the government was part of a package of measures agreed at the meeting, which included accelerating non-military aid to Libya.

He said that as well as countering IS, the GNA should take full control of Libyan ministries, backed by the international community.

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IS established a stronghold in Sirte after Col Gaddafi was overthrown

The North African country has been in chaos since Nato-backed forces overthrew long-time ruler Col Muammar Gaddafi in October 2011.

Until recently it had two rival governments competing for power, and there are still hundreds of militias, some allied to IS.

Western nations hope the unity government will take on IS, which has a foothold in Sirte – the home town of Gaddafi.

The militant group has launched a series of suicide bombings and attacks on oil facilities in the country.

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