Italy to send more troops to Libya, take part in Nato mission to Tunisia

Rome, Jan 9 (IANS/AKI) Italy will send 100 more soldiers and nearly 30 extra vehicles to Libya to help train and support the conflict-wracked North African country's security forces, and will take part in a Nato mission in neighbouring Tunisia, media reports said on Tuesday.

The new deployment in Libya will bring the number of troops there to around 400 - boosting the Ippocrate humanitarian support mission - and will increase the number of vehicles to 130 from around 100 currently, the Rome daily Il Messaggero reported, citing Italy's international programme for 2018 approved by the cabinet at the end of December.

The mission is part of Italy's strategic military focus on stabilising Mediterranean and African countries, Il Messaggero said.

Italy, which has already been training Libya's Coast Guard, will now put troops on the ground who will provide advice, support and mentoring to Libyan forces to help them combat trafficking and security threats, the daily said.

The Italian training mission will also help Libya's security forces restore the country's naval fleet and airforce and related infrastructure, the paper reported, quoting the government's 2018 international programme.

A total 60 Italian soldiers will take part in the Nato mission to Tunisia where at the request of its government they will help strengthen the capacity of its armed forces through training and advice, the daily said. Italy will also supply a plane as part of its contribution to the mission.

The Italian government has approved for 2018 a military training mission to Niger, which borders southern Libya, as part of joint European and US efforts to stabilise the region and boost the ability of Niger and other Sahel countries to maintain security and fight trafficking.

Niger's various police and special forces will receive training under the Italian capacity-building mission, Il Messaggero said.



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