Major powers were gathering in the Austrian capital on Monday to discuss the expanding presence of the Islamic State jihadist group in Libya, just across the Mediterranean from Europe.
A government of national unity strongly backed by the international community has been slowly asserting its authority in Tripoli since late March but it still faces a rival administration in the east.
The conference is being co-chaired by the United States and Italy, Libya’s former colonial ruler which has faced a major influx of migrants from the North African nation braving the perilous sea voyage.
It will “discuss international support for the new Government of National Accord, with a focus on security,” said John Kirby, spokesman for US Secretary of State John Kerry, who will chair the conference with his Italian counterpart Paolo Gentiloni.
“A common effort is needed to help the process of bringing stability to Libya,” Gentiloni said.
Libya plunged into chaos after the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi, with rival militias vying to control the oil-rich country.
The Government of National Accord headed by businessman Fayez al-Sarraj has won international support to help unite the divided country, but still faces stiff resistance at home.
It has failed to get the endorsement of the elected parliament and its ally Khalifa Haftar, a self-declared army chief who has launched a crusade against Islamist fighters across the country.
A rival Tripoli-based government has also refused to recognise the GNA, although the unity government has garnered support from key institutions like the central bank and the National Oil Corporation.
Amid the chaos, the Islamic State group has carved itself a bastion in Libya where it overran last year the Mediterranean coastal city of Sirte, Kadhafi’s hometown, transforming it into a training camp for militants from across the region and beyond.
Europe fears the jihadists, who have in recent weeks made new advances, will use Sirte’s port and airport as a springboard to launch attacks on the continent.