EU ministers agree to new naval mission monitoring Libya arms embargo

EU foreign ministers have agreed in principle on a new mission – including naval assets – to monitor Libya’s UN arms embargo, says German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.

The decision includes measures to allay concerns that the presence of European ships in the Mediterranean Sea would create a pull factor for migrants seeking to reach the European Union from Libya.

These include deploying the vessels in the eastern Mediterranean, away from migrant crossing routes, as well as a pledge to suspend the naval operations if a surge in attempted crossings is detected, says Italian Foreign Minister Luigi di Maio.

This will be a new mission replacing the EU’s currently suspended Operation Sophia, adds his Austrian counterpart Alexander Schallenberg. Vienna had been particularly vocal about the migration concerns.

Details must now be hashed out in the weeks to come.

The EU had pledged to do its utmost to uphold Libya’s arms embargo, as part of international efforts to resolve the conflict there.

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