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EU countries will 'refocus' Libya mission to respect arms embargo — Borrell

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By Euronews
EU countries will 'refocus' Libya mission to respect arms embargo — Borrell
Copyright  AP Photo/Michael Sohn   -   Michael Sohn

European Union countries have agreed to “refocus'' the mission of the bloc's anti-migrant smuggler naval operation in the Mediterranean Sea on upholding the UN arms embargo in Libya, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Monday.

After chairing talks between EU foreign ministers in Brussels, Borrell said that the bloc will also examine ways to help monitor a ceasefire in the conflict-torn country once one actually comes into force and replaces the shaky truce currently in place.

He told reporters that EU ambassadors and experts have been tasked with presenting “concrete proposals on how to implement this ceasefire and enforcing the UN arms embargo,''  by the time the ministers next meet in Brussels on Feb. 17.

“In the meantime, we have to pass from truce to a real ceasefire,'' Borrell said.  “We are in a truce, which is unstable. A truce can be violated several times a day. Without a ceasefire, it's going to be difficult to imagine any kind of strong engagement of the European Union.''

This came after both German Chancellor Angela Merkel and UN Secretary-General António Guterres emphasised at a press conference in Berlin earlier on Monday that the leaders of countries involved in Libya had agreed there could be no military solution to the ongoing conflict in the country.

Countries with interests in Libya will respect an arms embargo that is to be more strictly enforced than before, Merkel said after world leaders met to discuss the conflict.

Despite a 2011 arms embargo, several countries have been accused of arming rival groups in a conflict that began after the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi.

Read more: Civil war in Libya: Can peace talks in Berlin on Sunday bring an end to the conflict?

The German chancellor said the truce agreed on would need to be accepted by the UN Security Council to give the embargo an "enhanced profile" internationally.

"We wanted to give a new impetus," Merkel said, speaking about next steps for international discussions of the crisis.

Merkel said she thought enforcing the embargo would allow for political solutions to the conflict since it is "fuelled by proxies".

"Member states along with regional and international organisations have sent the strong signal that we are fully committed to supporting a peaceful resolution of the Libyan crisis," said Guterres.

The UN secretary-general emphasised that all parties at the meeting agreed that there could not be a military solution.

"All participants committed to refrain from interference in the armed conflict or internal affairs of Libya. This is part of the conclusions and of course, this must be adhered to," he explained.

The group also called on states to refrain from "any activities exacerbating the conflict," Guterres said.

He said world leaders had agreed on a "truce" but that they now needed a real ceasefire and for countries to put "pressure" on the opposing sides to stop fighting.