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Italy Reveals Military Meeting on Libya…UK Denies Sending Troops - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English
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Italy Reveals Military Meeting on Libya…UK Denies Sending Troops

Members of forces loyal to Libya's eastern government walk next to a tank during clashes with the Shura Council of Libyan Revolutionaries, an alliance of former anti-Gaddafi rebels who have joined forces with militant group Ansar al-Sharia, in Benghazi, Libya March 14, 2016. REUTERS/Stringer
Members of forces loyal to Libya's eastern government walk next to a tank during clashes with the Shura Council of Libyan Revolutionaries, an alliance of former anti-Gaddafi rebels who have joined forces with militant group Ansar al-Sharia, in Benghazi, Libya March 14, 2016. REUTERS/Stringer
Members of forces loyal to Libya’s eastern government walk next to a tank during clashes with the Shura Council of Libyan Revolutionaries, an alliance of former anti-Gaddafi rebels who have joined forces with militant group Ansar al-Sharia, in Benghazi, Libya March 14, 2016. REUTERS/Stringer

Cairo-Military leaders from 30 countries attended a meeting in Rome on Tuesday to discuss initiatives regarding the situation in Libya, Italian Foreign Minister Paulo Gentiloni said.

The purpose of the meeting, held at Rome’s Centocelle military airport, was to prepare for the establishment of a joint force to develop stability in Libya, Italian television said without giving further details. Gentiloni stressed that the development of plans does not mean intervention.

Italy recently said it would be prepared to provide military forces but only at the request of a long-delayed Libyan national unity government and after parliamentary approval.

The Sultanate of Oman and the United Nations Support Mission in Libya extended an invitation to all members of the Constitution Drafting Assembly (CDA) to attend a consultative meeting, commencing on the 17 March 2016, on the draft of Libyan constitution to be issued by the CDA and submitted to the Libyan people for referendum.

The aim of the meeting is to consult and deliberate on the remaining constitutional issues that are yet to be resolved.

The mission would like to stress on the principle of national ownership of the Libyan constitution. It would also like to indicate that, within the framework of hosting the meeting, it will act as facilitator for its proceedings.

The meeting shall be for discussing pending issues only and with respect to all ideas and papers to be presented and agreed on.

Moreover, the mission is confident that all members will work together in a constructive manner with the spirit of cooperation and responsibility and in respect of article 30 of the Constitutional Declaration to draft a constitution that fulfills the aspirations and ambitions of all Libyans.

On the other hand, the British government said it had no plans of deploying British troops to provide security for Libya’s newly-appointed national unity government.

British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon on Tuesday held a telephone conference with the Defense Ministers of Italy, France, Spain and Germany about the combined force.

Although all five countries insist the role would not be a combat one, there is always a risk of mission creep. The Libyan government might need to be bolstered in the event of an attack or the international force might be targeted by ISIS.

The Italian government is trying to build as wide a coalition as possible so if more countries were to send troops, the UK contribution could end up as fewer than 1,000.

However, a government spokesperson issued an unusually strong denial: “What members of the Foreign Affairs Committee heard on their recent visit is wrong on a number of counts. There are no plans to extend airstrikes to Libya nor are there plans to send British troops to provide security on the ground in Libya. It is therefore also wrong to suggest the defense secretary will agree any UK contribution this week.”

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