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Monday 11 December 2017

UN set for emergency Libya meeting

Egyptian president Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi says there is
Egyptian president Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi says there is "no choice" other than a UN-backed coalition in Libya. (AP)

The UN Security Council will meet in an emergency session on Libya tomorrow as permanent council members expressed support for a resolution on a response to the country's crisis.

The meeting comes as Egypt presses the council to take action after the Islamic State group posted a video of the beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians.

At a meeting between Egypt's foreign minister and the five permanent council members - the US, the UK, China, Russia and France - Russian ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters: "We agreed we would be working together on a draft resolution."

He did not give details except to say there would be a different approach than the current coalition combating IS in Syria and Iraq.

"They want a resolution of support in the Security Council ... and we're there to support it and do the right thing," Mr Churkin said.

He said he would meet Libya's foreign minister later today.

Egyptian president Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi said in a radio interview today that a UN-backed coalition was the best course of action to rid Libya of Islamic extremists.

Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shoukry, Libyan foreign minister Mohammed al Dairi and the UN envoy to Libya are expected to brief the council tomorrow afternoon in a public meeting.

Omar Ihwainish, information officer for Libya's mission to the UN, said "there's nothing so far" on any request from his government to the UN on the crisis but that the foreign minister was in New York for meetings and more will be known after that.

Diplomats said Libya would need to submit a letter requesting UN support. The British deputy ambassador to the UN, Peter Wilson, told reporters that his country had not seen such a letter.

"We're waiting to see what Foreign Minister Shoukry has to say," Mr Wilson said.

Iraq's UN ambassador Mohamed Alhakim told reporters that the Arab Group would be meeting soon and that individual ambassadors had already called the Egyptian ambassador in support. Mr Alhakim said he "absolutely" supports a plan for UN action.

Press Association

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