NATO calls on neighbours to help enforce Libyan arms embargo
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Thursday urged Libya's neighbours to help control any flow of weapons from the war-ravaged country, noting that a UN arms embargo remains in place despite the end of the alliance's mission, DPA reported.
"(Libya) must play a responsible role in the region. That includes preventing the spread of arms through North Africa... And neighbouring states must take action too," he said in Brussels.
He noted that since the United Nations had maintained its arms embargo on Libya, it was "the responsibility of individual nations" to enforce it, given the end of NATO operations in Libya.
"It is the responsibility of all members of the UN to enforce the arms embargo," he said. "Upon request from the new authorities in Libya, it is of course possible for ... NATO allies to assist the new authorities in Libya."
NATO did not have "exact information" on arms smuggling in the area, Rasmussen said.
Concerns have been raised that weapons - including shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles - from the Libyan regime's stockpiles may have fallen into terrorist hands.
There is also concern that militias may refuse to hand in weapons now that the fighting has ended.
Rasmussen said the task of uniting the different militias under common command and control was "one of the biggest challenges" facing Libya's transitional government.
"Despite all the challenges, this is a time for optimism," he said. "The Libyan people hold their country in their own hands. They have a chance to make the future better than the past."