Britain should help leaderless Libya, says Egypt's president


Britain should help prevent Libya being "held hostage" to extremists in the wake of the overthrow of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, Egypt's president has said ahead of talks with David Cameron.

Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said the Nato-led campaign to remove the nation's long-term leader in 2011 was "not completely accomplished" and the country had been left "without leadership".

Britain and other Nato members should "help the Libyan people and the Libyan economy", he told the Daily Telegraph.

The country is in chaos amid an ongoing dispute between its internationally-recognised administration and a rival Islamist-led government based in Tripoli, while it has also been hit with violence by militant groups.

Mr Sisi, whose visit to the UK has been criticised by peers in the House of Lords, said: "Libya is a danger that threatens all of us. If there is no government then this only creates a vacuum where extremists can prosper."

Of the Nato campaign, he added: "It was a mission that was not completely accomplished. What happened was that Libya was left without leadership when it needed our help most.

"Now we have a situation where the will of the Libyan people is being held hostage by militant groups."

In the Lords on Monday, leading Labour QC Baroness Kennedy of the Shaws said Mr Sisi had been "responsible for the murder of at least a thousand unarmed protesters" and urged the Prime Minister to confront him over what she called "his tyranny".

But Lord Courtown defended the decision to invite the president, saying Egypt was "key" to the UK's national interest in countering extremism and combating Islamic State (IS)

"It is in Britain's interest to work with President Sisi. Together we need to combat terrorism, we need to counter extremism and help bring stability to Libya," he said.

Downing Street has previously insisted that "no issues are off the table" when the former head of Egypt's armed forces, who led the coup overthrowing Islamist president Mohammed Morsi, takes part in the bilateral discussions.