Libya: Italy role important, constructive - Seibert

In heading follow-up committees after Berlin conference

17 February, 13:06

    (ANSAmed) - BERLIN, FEBRUARY 17 - The fact that the leadership of the Libya follow-up committees from the Berlin peace conference has gone to Italy "shows what an important and constructive role Italy has played in this process," German Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert told a press conference in Berlin Monday.

    Seibert confirmed the rotating presidency would move to Italy in March.

    He said Italy would decide when the next International Follow-up Committee meeting owuld take place in Rome.

    EU foreign ministers are unlikely to revive a naval operation to enforce an arms embargo on war-torn Libya on Monday, the bloc's diplomatic chief said, saying a number of countries were still against the plan.

    Austria has led opposition to re-equipping Operation Sophia with ships to ensure the UN arms embargo -- currently routinely being flouted -- is respected, fearing it could reactivate a rescue fleet that would end up ferrying migrants across the Mediterranean to Europe's ports.

    The Libya crisis is on the agenda for EU ministers meeting in Brussels on Monday, but the bloc's high representative for foreign affairs Josep Borrell said he was not hopeful of reaching an agreement on Sophia.

    "I don't think today we are going to be able," Borrell told reporters as he arrived, saying he would "continue working" and try to find a solution at the next ministers' meeting, in March.

    "I think there is more than one (country opposing the idea).

    When you approach the final decision many others have some final reluctance." Hungary, whose right-wing government has taken a tough anti-immigration stance, is understood to support Austria's objections. (ANSAmed).

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