Italy readying intervention plans in Libya with US, Britain, France

Italy, along with the United States, Britain and France, is considering military intervention to stabilize Libya, Defence Minister Roberta Pinotti said in an interview published Thursday.

Libya has been in chaos since the NATO-backed ouster of Moamer Gaddafi in 2011, and Islamic State extremists have made inroads there. In December, the UN brokered a deal for a national unity government, but its implementation is at risk.

"We cannot imagine letting the spring go by with the Libya situation still deadlocked. Over the last month we have worked more intensely with the Americans, British and French," Pinotti told the Corriere della Sera paper, in reference to military plans.

"We all agree that we need to avoid uncoordinated action, which did not lead to good results in the past."

She stressed that Western powers will intervene only on a request from Libyan authorities.

"We should not supply fodder for jihadist propaganda, which would want to present any intervention as a Western invasion," Pinotti said, listing the "protection" of the Libyan government and training of its forces as key priorities.

Noting that Italy was preparing for "emergency" situations, she said its navy mission deployed in the Mediterranean to counter migrant smuggling could be used for anti-terrorism purposes and that fighter jets were added to the Sicily air base of Trapani.

In Washington, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said President Barack Obama was discussing the threat of Islamic State in Libya and steps the US could take with European allies.

Earnest declined to discuss what options the US might be considering, amid the rising threat that Islamic State militants might take advantage of a power vacuum in Libya.

The top US military officer, General Joseph Dunford, had recently suggested the US could take decisive military action against Islamic State in Libya, but Earnest said it was too early to announce any "potential actions or escalation."

Last update: Fri, 29/01/2016 - 17:16

More from Europe

British police give all clear after "non-viable" device found

Counter-terrorism police in south-western England gave the all-clear Saturday after cordoning off a property for...

Poll: 'no' vote at 54 per cent in Italian constitutional referendum

Support for a 'no' vote on Italy's upcoming constitutional referendum has taken a 54-46 per cent lead, according to...

German minister hopeful shunned after "liking" right-wing party

A German prosecutor tapped for a cabinet position in an east German state is out of the running after "liking" the...

EU parliament chief raises hopes of salvaging Canada trade deal

An embattled trade EU-Canada trade deal should be signed as planned next week, European Parliament President Martin...

Police suspect tear gas in London City airport "chemical incident"

Police said they suspected CS gas could have caused a "chemical incident" that led to a three-hour evacuation of ...