Libya neighbours back Egypt call to disarm militias

Cairo - Libya's neighbours on Monday backed an Egyptian call for rival militias in the tumultuous North African country to be disarmed, agreeing with Cairo that there should be no foreign intervention to stem spiralling lawlessness.

Foreign ministers from Libya, Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, Sudan and Chad met a day after Cairo denied Islamist militia accusations that it had conducted an air strike against Islamists in Tripoli.

The ministerial get-together also came 48 hours after Islamist militias seized the airport in the Libyan capital and challenged the legitimacy of Libya's parliament, which was elected in June.

In Cairo, the meeting of ministers supported Tripoli's beleaguered parliament, which Islamists say permitted Friday's deadly strike on the airport.

The Islamists blamed Egypt and the United Arab Emirates for the strike that killed 13 fighters and said Libya's parliament had lost its legitimacy through its alleged complicity.

"The initiative reached a number of governing principles," Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri said in a press conference after the ministers' meeting.

"The most important of which is respecting Libya's unity and sovereignty, rejecting any intervention in its domestic affairs, abiding by a comprehensive dialogue, renouncing violence, and supporting the political process," he added.

Libya is locked in a bloody battle between rival Islamist and nationalist militias, with security forces struggling to clamp down on escalating violence.

Shoukri insisted on Monday that all militias and armed factions should gradually lay down their arms and that foreign parties should refrain from exporting and supplying the "illegitimate factions" with weapons.

The Egyptian FM added that the ministers agreed to back Libya's "legitimate institutions, especially the parliament", including in the rebuilding of the country's military and police.

Tackle the conflict

The proposals will be submitted to the United Nations and Arab League as a framework to tackle the conflict, he said.

Earlier Monday, before the meeting in Cairo, Shoukri said that foreign intervention in Libya "should be avoided".

After meeting Shoukri, Libyan Foreign Minister Mohamed Abdelaziz told journalists that political co-ordination between the two countries was required as "the escalating security situation in Libya has a negative effect on Egypt's national security".

Abdelaziz added that his country awaited a UN Security Council resolution that would send a "strong message" to end the fighting in Libya.

Recent fighting between nationalist militiamen from Zintan and pro-Islamists from Misrata has led to around 1 000 families fleeing their homes in Tripoli.

The United Nations Support Mission in Libya on August 17 condemned the deadly clashes that have surged following the ouster in 2011 of dictator Muammar Gaddafi, and "urged both parties to lay down their arms and observe a ceasefire".