Egypt will train Libyan forces to fight terrorism and help secure a shared border, the prime ministers of the two states announced in Cairo on Wednesday, stepping up efforts against Islamist insurgents in both countries.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has expressed concerns over militants who have capitalized on the chaos in post-Gaddafi Libya to set up operations there and sneak across the border into Egypt.
They have forged ties with Egypt’s Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, the Sinai-based militant group that has stepped up attacks on soldiers and policemen since Sisi as army chief removed the Muslim Brotherhood from power last year.
Hundreds of security forces have been killed.
“We need to urgently support all the needs of our (Libyan) brothers to coordinate at the highest level in all areas…in the fields of security and we emphasize the exchange of information to combat terrorism…and also emphasize border security and control,” Egyptian Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb told a news conference.
Reuters reported last week that Egypt had offered to train pro-government forces battling rival armed groups in Libya to help address what it says is a threat to its own stability.
The arrangement was publicly announced in Cairo, where Libyan Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni expressed alarm over Islamist militants controlling large parts of his country.
“We are facing terrorism … and terrorism must be faced with strength and power and requires building and training cadres capable of confronting these terrorists,” said Thinni.
He is recognised internationally but is currently based in the city of Tobruk in the east — near the Egyptian border — having lost control of the capital to a rival prime minister and parliament.
Both prime ministers stressed that extensive cooperation was needed to stem the tide of Islamist militants in chaotic Libya.