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Source: Libya Herald

Egypt’s foreign minister Sameh Shoukri warned today that a spillover of the conflict in Libya could prompt foreign intervention. Both, he said, had to be avoided at all costs.

What was the fourth meeting between Libya’s neighbouring countries — Egypt, Chad, Tunisia, Algeria and Sudan — was hosted by Shoukri in Cairo just two days after Egypt officially denied it had been behind the mysterious airstrikes against Islamist strongholds in Tripoli.

During the meeting, the ministers discussed the importance of supporting the “legitimacy” of Libya’s state institutions and of preserving the nation’s unity and sovereignty.

Shoukri stressed the importance of immediately forming and backing a new government in Libya, especially following the recent election of the House of Representatives on 25 June.

Egypt had felt the effects of the escalating Libyan situation, he said, mainly through the presence of extremist and terrorist elements which had upped their activities in Egypt and other countries through arms dealing and trafficking.

“This affects the sovereignty of neighbouring countries and threatens their stability. This could affect the interests of other countries outside the region and could lead to forms of intervention in Libyan affairs, which should be avoided,” he was quoted as saying.

The foreign ministers discussed an Egyptian proposal to disarm the different militias “simultaneously and without discrimination”, Shoukri said.

“Libya’s neighbours must put an end to the violence and make sure no one [in Libya] possesses weapons besides state institutions,” he insisted.

In order to achieve the goals of a national dialogue, the disarmament of all militias at the same time and the building up of state institutions such as the national army, Shoukri proposed the formation of two groups:  One group, headed by Egypt, would deal with the political aspects of the crisis, while the other, headed by Algeria, would address the security and military issues.

Libyan Foreign Minister Mohamed Abdelaziz strongly supported Shoukri’s propsoals, but did not share the Egyptian foreign minister’s reluctance to allow for foreign intervention, stating that Libya was “waiting” for the UN Security Council to send a “strong message” to end the fighting in Libya.

“There should be an effective dialogue in addition to international involvement in the long run to reconstruct the country’s institutions,” he explained.

Thus far, the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) has sent repeated “strong” messages to the warring militias, urging all parties to observe an immediate ceasefire and contribute to a national dialogue, but the calls seem to have fallen on deaf ears.

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