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NATO to advise Libya on strengthening security forces

Libya's Prime Minister Ali Zeidan speaks during a news conference at the headquarters of the Prime Minister's Office in Tripoli January 3, 2
Libya's Prime Minister Ali Zeidan speaks during a news conference at the headquarters of the Prime Minister's Office in Tripoli January 3, 2

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - NATO agreed on Monday to a Libyan request to advise it on strengthening its security forces, lending support to a country where powerful militias have stoked fears of a slide into anarchy.

Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan asked NATO for technical advice and help with training in May and the alliance later sent experts to the country to see how it could help.

The request for help was given added urgency by Zeidan's brief kidnapping by militia members this month.

Two years after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in an Arab Spring-inspired uprising, Libya's fragile government is crippled by infighting and unable to disarm former militia fighters in a country awash with weapons from his four-decade rule.

"Allies have agreed to respond positively to the request made by the Libyan prime minister for NATO to provide advice on defense institution-building in Libya," NATO said in a statement.

The 28-nation alliance said it would set up a "small advisory team" to help Libya.

NATO officials provided few details about the mission or how many advisers would be involved.

A NATO source indicated their role would be to advise on strengthening the security forces rather than hands-on training.

The team will be based in Brussels and will not have a permanent presence in Libya, the source said.

NATO said its advisers would work in close coordination with other international organizations and individual NATO members.

NATO played a critical role in toppling Gaddafi. The Western alliance imposed a no-fly zone and used air power to try to prevent his forces attacking civilian areas held by rebels.

(Reporting by Adrian Croft; Editing by Alison Williams)

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