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Egypt’s Sissi calls for NATO help in Libya ‘vacuum’

Leader warns that extremists may prosper in North African neighbor if steps not taken to stabilize country

File: Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi in a media interview in New York, Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015. (AP/Julie Jacobson)
File: Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi in a media interview in New York, Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015. (AP/Julie Jacobson)

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, called for NATO powers to help rebuild Libya, beset by violence since an uprising backed by the Western military alliance toppled leader Muammar Gaddafi, in an interview on Tuesday.

Sissi was quoted in British newspaper the Daily Telegraph ahead of a visit to London in which he is to discuss security cooperation with Prime Minister David Cameron.

“Libya is a danger that threatens all of us. If there is no government then this only creates a vacuum where extremists can prosper,” Sissi said, according to the Telegraph.

“It was a mission that was not completely accomplished… We must support all efforts to help the Libyan people and the Libyan economy.”

Libya has descended into chaos since longtime dictator Gaddafi was ousted in 2011 and killed in the midst of an uprising supported by NATO states.

Chronic insecurity, with armed groups battling to control its energy resources and two governments vying for power, has made Libya a key launching point for people smugglers feeding Europe’s migrant crisis by sending boatloads of people across the Mediterranean.

“We need to stop the flow of funds and weapons and foreign fighters to the extremists. All the members of NATO -– including Britain –- who took part in the mission to overthrow Gaddafi need to give their help,” Sissi said.

It is Sissi’s first visit to Britain since his 2013 toppling of Egypt’s first freely elected civilian leader Mohammed Morsi, whose divisive 12-month rule had drawn mass protests.

In the interview, Sissi dismissed claims that a Russian airliner that crashed in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula could have been brought down by a missile or bomb as “unfounded speculation.”

He also criticised Western efforts to combat Islamic State fighters in Iraq and Syria, according to the Telegraph, saying: “The map of extremism and instability is expanding and not retreating. We need to reassess our priorities.”

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