Following a recent visit to the Libyan capital, Tripoli, and meetings with country’s intrim minister for defence Osama al-Juwali, French defence minister Gerard Longuet had discussions on issues to boost cooperation. Bioth sides also agreed to look into boosting maritime security and controlling Libya’s borders.
There has been concerns by foreign states about the Libyan government’s capacity to secure its Mediterranean coast, which could be used as a gateway into Europe for arms traffickers, al Qaeda insurgents and illegal migrants.
The Libyan conflict has also created new problems for the fragile region to its south, with regional governments warning that instability in Libya could allow weapons taken from the former regime’s arsenal to fall into the hands of insurgent groups across the Sahara desert.
Longet told a news conference in Tripoli, that Libya’s strategic position joining Africa with the Mediterranean makes it an exposed territory. “We have decided to put in a place a working Franco-Libyan committee to look at all these points,” he said..
The French minister, who also met the head of Libya’s National Transitional Council, Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, went on to say” This will bring together military staff, engineers, technicians and diplomats who will work on these issues. Cooperation between Libya and France is a long-term project.”
In the meantime, last month, two French warships arrived at Tripoli’s port lcarrying navy crewmen to train the Libyan navy and help demine oil ports. A number of Libyan divers would be trained by France
On his part, Juwali thanked France for the leading role it took in backing last year’s rebellion against Muammar Gaddafi’s rule. He said: “The cooperation between France and Libya is developing day by day. They have expressed their readiness to give us the necessary technical advice to secure our borders.”
In December, French army chief of staff Admiral Edouard Guillaud said France was ready to offer military training to Libya and was examining ways to boost its co-operation with the new government.
(Source: Tripoli Post)