Libya wants UK help to halt Syria arms smuggling

David Cameron with Libya's Prime Minister Ali Zeidan David Cameron met Libya's Prime Minister Ali Zeidan at Downing Street earlier

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Libya's prime minister has appealed for British help to remove weapons from the country amid fears of increased arms smuggling to Syria.

Ali Zeidan met British PM David Cameron earlier and said weapons left after the collapse of the Gaddafi regime in 2011 were an "international" problem.

On Monday the UN was told a "worrying" amount of weapons were leaving Libya.

Mr Cameron said the country faced "huge challenges" and Britain was determined to help.

At the meeting in Downing Street on Tuesday, Mr Zeidan said he wanted to co-operate with Britain, "especially in the field of removing weapons from Libya".

He said: "It is now an international matter and we do need assistance in order to perform this task because we are now facing a battle with international terrorism that extends from Afghanistan to Mali."

Mr Cameron told Mr Zeidan: "We recognise the huge challenges you face in terms of security and governance, putting in place the capacity that Libya needs for a good and strong government.

"We are doing everything we can to help."

Specific details of the proposed help have not yet emerged.

'Deep' commitment

Speaking before the meeting, Mr Cameron said talks would include "legacy issues" such as an ongoing investigation into the murder of policewoman Yvonne Fletcher outside the Libyan embassy in London in 1984 and the north African country's supply of arms to the IRA.

Syrian opposition fighters in Aleppo, 12 Sept The UN heard increasing amounts of arms and ammunition are being smuggled from Libya to Syria

The UN Security Council heard on Monday from its committee on Libyan sanctions, which said more arms and ammunition were being smuggled out of Libya.

The committee said there was "an increasing number of reported cases of trafficking in such materiel to Syria".

Weapons from Libya were used by Islamist militants who laid siege to a BP gas plant in Algeria in January, killing at least 40 foreign workers including six Britons.

Tarek Mitri, UN envoy to Libya, said elections after the fall of Gaddafi "raised more expectations than what the political institutions and forces have been capable of meeting".

Security problems, political disagreements and disruption to oil exports had contributed to public scepticism and even "rejection" of the process, he said.

He added: "But this should not be mistaken for a loss of faith in national unity, democracy and the rule of law.

"Their commitment to the principles for which they fought their revolution remains deep."

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