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02:32

Belgium: Luxembourg FM confirms end of Operation Sophia anti-smuggler mission

Belgium, Brussels
February 17, 2020 at 21:33 GMT +00:00 · Published

European Union foreign ministers agreed on Monday to end Operation Sophia and commence a new aerial and maritime operation focused on reinforcing a UN arms embargo around Libya, Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn said in Brussels.

"Operation Sophia is closed, it is finished," Asselborn told the press in Brussels on the sidelines of a meeting of EU foreign ministers. Asselborn said the operation was "mostly" finished because "our Italian friends saw Operation Sophia not just or uniquely as an operation to control the embargo but for them it was an operation that was implicated in the rescuing of migrants."

Referring to the still-unnamed new operation, Asselborn said the "overriding objective" was the arms embargo on Libya. "This operation will be comprised of three levels, in the air, satellite and maritime. The operation, the area of the operation will be defined by those who will put it into motion."

Operation Sophia, which aims to combat the people smuggling in the Mediterranean, currently has no ships of its own after a compromise struck under pressure from the Italian government in March 2019, by which the operation was limited to aircraft alone.

02:32
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European Union foreign ministers agreed on Monday to end Operation Sophia and commence a new aerial and maritime operation focused on reinforcing a UN arms embargo around Libya, Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn said in Brussels.

"Operation Sophia is closed, it is finished," Asselborn told the press in Brussels on the sidelines of a meeting of EU foreign ministers. Asselborn said the operation was "mostly" finished because "our Italian friends saw Operation Sophia not just or uniquely as an operation to control the embargo but for them it was an operation that was implicated in the rescuing of migrants."

Referring to the still-unnamed new operation, Asselborn said the "overriding objective" was the arms embargo on Libya. "This operation will be comprised of three levels, in the air, satellite and maritime. The operation, the area of the operation will be defined by those who will put it into motion."

Operation Sophia, which aims to combat the people smuggling in the Mediterranean, currently has no ships of its own after a compromise struck under pressure from the Italian government in March 2019, by which the operation was limited to aircraft alone.

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