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Cairo to hail Russian warships' possible help in Libya's naval blockade -- Egyptian FM

Egypt would welcome participation of Russian warships in naval blockade of Libya to prevent arms supplies for terrorists in the Arab country if Moscow made such decision, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said on Thursday.

"Russia plays an important role in this issue since it has a naval fleet in the Mediterranean," Shoukry told a news conference in Moscow on Thursday. "We would welcome contributions of any country, which has abilities of providing such contributions."

"Any effort, which can be contributed in the blockade of the border to prevent arms getting into wrong hands, will be of great help," the minister added.

Addressing the UN Security Council earlier this month Shoukry that Libya's government latter should authorize a naval blockade of Libyan territorial waters so as to prevent the delivery of weapons by sea to the Islamic radicals acting in the country.

In this regard Russia's Permanent Representative at the United Nations Vitaly Churkin said he did not rule out a possibility of Russia taking part in an international anti-terrorist coalition in Libya, in particular in securing a naval blockade of Libyan territorial waters in order to avert the delivery of weapons to the Islamic radicals.

"From the political point of view, I would not rule out this. But this is not my decision," he told TASS after the UN Security Council meeting last week.

"If Russia could take part in the operation off Somalia's coast, why can't it take part in an operation in the Mediterranean?"

He drew attention to the fact that air strikes at Islamic State terrorists in Libya had been delivered by Egypt, which enjoy traditionally friendly relations with Russia.

Late on February 15, Islamic State gunmen circulated a video showing the execution of 21 Egyptians, all Coptic Christians coming from the city of Samalut in the Minya province south of Cairo.

They were captured by the extremists in Libya at the end of last year from the coastal town of Sirte in eastern Libya, now under the control of Islamist groups, and since then their fate had been unknown.

Following the cold-blooded mass execution, which caused worldwide outcry, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi addressed the nation saying Cairo had the "right to respond" to killings of Egyptian citizens in Libya.

[Source: Itar Tass, Moscow, 26Feb15]

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