BEIJING – The foreign ministers of China and Tunisia called Wednesday for new efforts to reach a negotiated peace in Libya and prevent the unstable North African nation from dissolving into a humanitarian disaster on a level with Syria.
China's Wang Yi said Libya is attracting militants from across the globe now being driven from Iraq and Syria, requiring the international community to step in and prevent the country becoming "a new source of international terrorism."
"We should prevent Libya from becoming the next Syria," Wang told reporters.
Tunisia's Khemaies Jhinaoui, whose country borders Libya, said a political rather than military solution is needed based on a 2015 United Nations-brokered peace deal.
"Libya should realize its security, independence and territorial integrity and avoid the misfortune of national disruption," Jhinaoui said.
China joined Russia in abstaining on a 2011 U.N. vote that imposed a no-fly zone over Libya to protect civilians amid civil war, but later complained that NATO overstepped its mandate in enforcing the measure.
Following that, the two countries have joined to block U.S.-mandated intervention in the Syrian conflict, although Russia has since dispatched forces to back President Bashar Assad.
The 2011 overthrow and killing of longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi spawned chaos and created a power and security vacuum that turned Libya into a breeding ground for militias and militants, including Islamic State group and al-Qaida affiliates. It has also made Libya a gateway for thousands of migrants from Africa and elsewhere seeking to cross the Mediterranean to Italy.
Since 2014, Libya has been split between rival governments and parliaments based in the western and eastern regions, each backed by different militias, tribes and political factions.
The 2015 peace deal sought to create a unity government but failed because the U.N.-backed government now in Tripoli has been unable to win the endorsement of Libya's internationally recognized Parliament in eastern Tobruk.