Nato to send expert mission to Libya
04 June 2013, 18:02
Brussels - Nato Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen
announced on Tuesday the alliance will send an expert mission to Libya at short
notice to assess needs as the country faces a flow of insurgents from Mali.
Security experts worry that the al-Qaeda-linked militants -
pushed out of Mali after French military intervention - may be trying to
establish a safe haven in southern Libya.
The mission "will go as soon as possible and, together
with the Libyans, identify the areas in which the Libyans think they need
advice and areas where we do believe we can add value", Rasmussen said
ahead of the opening session of a meeting of Nato defence ministers.
He insisted it will not mean putting boots on the ground in
the North African nation.
"This is not about deploying troops to Libya. If we are
to engage in training activities, such activities could take place outside
Libya," he said.
US defence officials have said Nato's experience training
Afghan and Iraqi security forces provides the expertise to do something similar
Rasmussen said Nato is planning to coordinate with other
national and international efforts and he expects a report from the expert
group by the end of June, before more definite plans are made.
Libyan leaders have requested help from Nato, the US and
other nations. US President Barack Obama broadly indicated that he would support
efforts by Nato to aid the Libyans.
French officials believe some jihadists may have fled Mali
along traditional drug and other contraband trafficking routes through Niger
and into Libya.
The vast, mostly barren southern two-thirds of Libya has
largely gone its own way since the rebellion that overthrew long-time dictator Muammar
Gaddafi in 2011, but now there are concerns that in addition to local tensions,
the area might be drawn into larger regional conflicts involving al-Qaeda.
French troops drove al-Qaeda forces out of nearby Mali, and
there are concerns that the militants might try to regroup in southern Libya.