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Washington says it respects Egypt's decision to defend itself after beheading of Copts in Libya

'We certainly respect the right of countries to make their own decisions about their own self-defence and defence of their own country', says State Department spokesperson

Ahram Online , Wednesday 18 Feb 2015
Jen Psaki

The United States has said it respects Egypt's rights to defend itself after Cairo carried out airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Libya to avenge the killings of 21 Coptic Egyptians by the extremists.

"We certainly respect the right of countries to make their own decisions about their own self-defence and defence of their own country," State Department spokeswoman Jan Psaki said when asked about the raids Egypt conducted.

Egypt on Monday bombed Islamic State group weapons caches and training camps to avenge "the bloodshed and to seek retribution from the killers," the military said.

But Washington still stressed the need for a UN-led political solution as the best way out of the crisis in Libya, where rival governments and militia groups battle for control and the country's vast oil riches.

"We continue to believe that in Libya the best path forward is a political process, one that’s being led by the UN," the spokeswoman told a regular press briefing on Tuesday.

"That is the process that’s trying to work through the disagreements between different parties and entities on the ground," she added, stressing that "countries’ desires to defend themselves is different than that."

Egypt has called on the United Nations to authorise a military intervention in the embroiled country, but western countries – including the US, France, Britain and German – stressed in a joint statement the "urgent need for a political solution to the conflict."

The UN Security Council will convene an emergency meeting on Wednesday after a request by Egypt and Libya to discuss action on the crisis, Egypt's foreign ministry said.

The Egyptian-Libyan coordinated strikes in the eastern Libyan city of Derna came hours after the Islamic State group released a gruesome video of the beheading of Christian Egyptians who travelled there seeking work before they were kidnapped in December and January.

Egypt's announcement was the country's first acknowledgement of military action in the chaotic North African state. The United Sates said Cairo allowed the United Arab Emirates last year to use its bases to bomb militiamen in Libya, allegations denied by Egypt.




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