France's top military officer says he favors an international operation to battle a security "black hole" in southern Libya.

Admiral Edouard Guillaud suggested that a lack of firm central authority in Tripoli has fostered lawlessness in the southern area and France doesn't want it to become "the new center of gravity of terrorism."

Guillaud told reporters Monday that Libya remains an independent state and no international operation could happen without its government's approval, "but we are looking." He did not elaborate.

French and other Western powers, which in 2011 helped topple Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi from power, have expressed concerns that the country's south could become a new haven for international jihadist groups.