German minister: Islamic State puts pressure on Libya peace talks

It is urgent for Libya's competing factions to form a government of national unity that could then ask for international help in fighting Islamic State extremists, German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen said Friday.

The radical Islamist group has made inroads amid a political vacuum in the north African country, where two rival governments are locked in efforts to agree to a joint cabinet, after signing a UN-brokered peace deal in December.

"Libya is already starting to become an area of retreat and operation for the Islamic State," von der Leyen said ahead of a meeting with her 27 EU counterparts in Amsterdam.

"Alongside the other big problems that exist in Libya, this reinforces the pressure of forming a unity government which could then also clearly say what help it needs from the international community," she added.

There has been increasing talk in recent weeks of the possibility of an international military intervention in Libya to stem the spread of Islamic State there, following a US-led air campaign targeting the group in Syria and Iraq.

But countries are wary of taking action without the blessing of Libya's new leaders.

The formation of a national unity government "will be an important first step also to be able to fight ISIL," NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in Amsterdam, using an acronym for the Islamic State.

"NATO stands ready to support a new unity government in Libya, to help them build defence institutions ... but that requires a request from a new unity government in Libya and of course a new situation on the ground in Libya to enable such support form NATO," he added.

Last update: Fri, 24/06/2016 - 08:49

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