France to push for swift G8 agreement on Libya

France to push for swift G8 agreement on Libya
# 14 March 2011 17:34 (UTC +04:00)
Baku – APA. France will push G8 foreign ministers meeting in Paris to agree action on Libya, and back its efforts to speed up a U.N. Security Council decision on imposing a no-fly zone in Libya sought by anti-Gaddafi rebels, APA reports quoting “Reuters”.
France, the current Group of Eight president, declined to comment on an Al Jazeera report that the United States, Britain and France had already promised rebels in eastern Libya to set up a no-fly zone to help them fight government forces.
But the foreign ministry said Libya would be a priority during talks on Monday and Tuesday between U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the foreign ministers of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Russia.
Muammar Gaddafi’s troops are using tanks and planes to crush ragtag rebel forces fighting to end 41 years of authoritarian rule, and security analysts fear the Libyan leader could retake control before world powers agree on a course of action.
France and Britain have led calls to impose a no-fly zone and a French diplomatic source said on Monday that Paris was pushing the issue with foreign ministers arriving for the G8 talks. The meeting formally begins with a dinner on Monday and ends with a news conference on Tuesday afternoon.
Both Clinton and Canadian Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon were to meet Libyan opposition figures this week, either in Paris or in north Africa.
With violence worsening, "no option can be ruled out," foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero told an electronic press briefing as Gaddafi’s troops battled rebel fighters for control of the oil town of Brega.
"The conclusions from the March 11 European summit and the Arab League’s March 12 resolution clearly demonstrate the international community’s firm commitment to protecting Libyan civilians," Valero said.
"This issue will be discussed as a priority at the foreign minister’s meeting with his G8 counterparts with the aim of reaching an agreement that will enable the Security Council, which has received an official request from the Arab League, to move forward as fast as possible."
Cannon said Canada wanted more details of how a no-fly zone would be implemented before it backed such an option.
"It is important to be able to measure the effectiveness of the options being put forward," Cannon told reporters, adding that Canada would propose the G8 imposes stronger sanctions on Libya than have been agreed so far by the United Nations.
The United Nations Security Council was expected to hold consultations later on Monday on the Arab League’s weekend call for a U.N. no-fly zone.
NATO has set three conditions for the policing of Libyan air space: regional support for the motion, proof outside help is needed and a U.N. Security Council resolution.
Al Jazeera television cited sources inside Libya’s Interim National Council as saying they had received promises from Washington, Paris and London that they would agree on a no-fly zone at the U.N. Security Council meeting.
Britain said there had been no change in its position of support for imposing a no-fly zone to shield Libyans from Gaddafi’s air power. "Contingency planning continues for this and other options," a government spokesman said.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said international powers should consider arming Libyan rebels, even though that would require lifting a United Nations arms embargo on the country.
Paris has been playing a leading role in the international response to the uprising, especially in its calls with Britain to secure U.N. support for a no-fly zone resolution.
Those calls have met some reluctance from fellow G8 members Russia and the United States as well as non-G8 China. At a European Union summit on Friday, an airborne military option also appeared to be played down, specifically by Germany.
The United States has called the Arab League’s call for a no-fly zone an "important step" but has remained cautious over endorsing direct military intervention.