NATO chief offers help to reform Libyan security

NATO chief offers help to reform Libyan security

NEW YORK - Reuters
NATO chief offers help to reform Libyan security

Libyan soldiers in charge of clearing buildings of militia members patrol in Tripoli.

The head of NATO expressed concern about armed groups operating outside government control in Libya and said he was encouraging Tripoli to accept an offer of help to reform its security sector.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen made the offer on Sept. 27 to Libyan leader Mohammed Magarief after this month’s attack on the U.S. consulate in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, which killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans.

“Obviously, it is a matter of concern that individual and independent armed groups operate without superior control in Libya,” Rasmussen said. He said he had offered NATO help to improve security in Libya in a meeting with Magarief at the United Nations. “We have a lot of expertise when it comes to reforms of the defense and security sector and also when it comes to the reintegration of former freedom fighters to a unified security structure in the new Libya,” he said.

Rasmussen said he was encouraged that the new Libyan government had taken “a number of steps to put these individual groups under control with the aim of creating a strong unified security structure.”

US withdraws more staff from Tripoli

The NATO’s offer came as the State Department said the U.S. is temporarily withdrawing more staff from its embassy in Libya’s capital for security reasons, but hopes to send them back early next week.

“We will review our posture again early next week with the goal of restoring staff as soon as conditions allow,” a State Department official said on Sept. 27. The senior official declined to say how many staff were being withdrawn, but a statement on the website of the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli warned of possible demonstrations in Tripoli and Benghazi on Sept. 28. “The demonstrations are a continuation of those that took place in Benghazi September 21-22,” it said, referring to protests that Washington blames for the assault on its consulate.