Britain's Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond speaks during a news conference in Tripoli, Libya, April 18, 2016. REUTERS/Ismail Zitouny(reuters_tickers)
TRIPOLI (Reuters) - The international community was ready to help Libya's unity government with security training, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said on a visit to Tripoli on Monday, and he hoped such training could happen in Libya or a neighbouring country.
Britain was one of several countries to try to train Libyan security forces abroad after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, but the efforts stalled amid militia infighting and political squabbles.
An earlier training scheme in Britain was called off after five Libyans taking part in the programme were convicted or confessed to sex crimes in Cambridgeshire that occurred in October 2014. Two of them were sentenced to 12 years in jail for raping a man.
Hammond said circumstances in Libya had changed and that Libyans were weary of conflict and conscious of having Islamic State as a common enemy.
"I hope that as the militia groups come inside the tent ... and cooperate with the government, it will be possible for us and our partners to support a military training programme in the future," Hammond said.
"I'm confident that if the conditions are right for that training programme to take place in Libya, or in a neighbouring country, that will be more successful than trying to do it in Europe."
Hammond's visit follows trips by his Italian, French and German counterparts last week. The U.N.-backed government arrived in Tripoli late last month, and Western states see it as the best hope for ending the political divisions and conflict that have plagued Libya since the 2011 uprising.
Hammond also announced 10 million pounds ($14 million) in "technical assistance" for the new government. The money includes 1.4 million pounds for combating illegal migration, smuggling and organised crime, and 1.8 million pounds to support counter-terrorism activities.
(Writing by Aidan Lewis, editing by Larry King)