Libya neighbours approve border security plan
By Walid Ramzi in Algiers and Essam Mohamed in Tripoli for Magharebia – 13/03/12
The first African border security summit in Tripoli concluded on Monday (March 12th) with an agreement to strengthen joint border patrols to clamp down on arms trafficking and transnational crime.
"We have adopted the Tripoli action plan on regional co-operation and border control," Libyan Interim Prime Minister Abdurrahim El Keib told reporters at the end of the two-day summit.
Interior and defence ministers from Algeria, Morocco, Mauritania, Tunisia, Libya, Chad, Egypt, Mali, Niger and Sudan, as well as representatives of the European Union, Arab League, African Union and the United Nations, attended the event.
The Tripoli plan envisages specialised training in border security and development of laws and advanced technologies to better control frontiers.
Participants mulled the possibility of forming a committee of experts to share expertise. They also agreed to draw up a permanent mechanism for regional co-operation in combating organised crime and illegal immigration.
The Libyan government reassured its neighbours that joint borders would come under full control soon. The last four months were not enough to completely secure borders, El Keib said. The government will activate a border protection agency and supply it with all necessary capabilities, including surveillance aircraft and human forces on the ground, he added.
"We don't want to cause any security problems to any country around the world, especially neighbouring countries," El Keib said. "We are about to look for and locate SAM-7s, which we are not required to destroy. Rather, we'll provide sufficient protection for them, and we'd like to reassure countries about that."
The weapons that were in the possession of Libyan rebels will not pose danger to the security of any country, the Libyan prime minister vowed.
Defence Minister Osama al-Juwali insisted that the issue had been exaggerated.
"These missiles date back to 1970, and therefore, they are ineffective and non-operational. We were able to collect the majority of them," he said.
In his turn, Algerian Interior Minister Dahou Ould Kablia said: "Only traditional weapons like Kalashnikovs, explosives and surface-to-surface missiles of limited effectiveness had been smuggled."
The Algerian official described the results of the conference as "very positive". Experts helped identify various security threats facing the countries concerned and proposed solutions that were adopted, he said.
"All countries in the region, including Algeria, will work on implementing them with resolve and commitment," Ould Kablia said.
He denied that there are any Libyan elements on Algerian soil that seek to "destabilise Libya". Algeria's security interests are intertwined with Libya, according to Ould Kablia.
"We don’t need instability, especially as we've suffered from instability and terrorist threats that affected the situation in the whole region," he said.
During his meeting with Libya's National Transitional Council (NTC) chief Mustafa Abdel Jalil, Ould Kablia reiterated that his country would fend off any attempts to "undermine the Libyan revolution".
But El Keib insisted that Moamer Kadhafi's aides were "using money to try to destabilise Libya" from abroad.
"We would like to thank our neighbouring countries for reassuring us, but we are determined to bring them to our land to give them a fair trial," he said.
Kadhafi's wife Saifa, his daughter Aisha and his sons Hannibal and Mohamed along with their children and chauffeurs crossed to Algeria last August. Their presence in Algeria has been the bone of contention in Algerian-Libyan ties.
For his part, Moroccan Interior Minister Mohand Laenser concurred that the conference yielded positive results. Morocco offered to host the next ministerial conference at the end of this year.
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