Germany hails Arab League backing for no-fly zone in Libya

13th March 2011, Comments 0 comments

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle on Sunday hailed the Arab League's backing for a no-fly zone in revolt-hit Libya but restated Berlin's reservations about such a move and called for an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council.

"I welcome the clear stand of the Arab League on the crimes of the (Moamer) Kadhafi regime," he told reporters.

Westerwelle called on the UN Security Council to meet "as soon as possible to take a fresh look at the situation in Libya".

The Arab League on Saturday urged the United Nations to impose a no-fly zone on Libya, saying Kadhafi's regime had "lost legitimacy," in a boost for embattled rebels fighting to oust the Libyan leader.

The pan-Arab organisation also announced its recognition of the transitional national council set up by the rebels in their eastern stronghold of Benghazi and said they would open contact with the group.

Westerwelle described the Arab League resolution as "a clear signal" but noted that "many outstanding questions remain."

"We do not want to get involved in a civil war in north Africa," the minister said, restating Berlin's concern and reservations about the no-fly zone which he described as a "military action".

He noted that the League said it "remains opposed to foreign intervention".

"How to set up a no-fly zone without violating the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Libya, as sought by the Arab League, remains an open question. As is the issue of whether the Arab League wants to take part in the imposition of such a zone," Westerwelle said.

He made it clear that imposing a no-fly zone over Libya requires "the active support and involvement of regional states."

Britain and France have been pushing for a no-fly zone, but in a final statement following an emergency meeting in Brussels on Friday, European Union states made no mention of such a move, although they acknowledged the need to eye "all necessary options" to protect civilians.

Saturday, Westerwelle insisted on the need to hold talks with southern Mediterranean countries, to avoid endangering the democratic process evolving in Libya's neighbours, Egypt and Tunisia.

The Arab League has also called for the establishment of safe havens "to protect the Libyan people and all other nationals" living in areas subjected to attacks by Kadhafi forces.

© 2011 AFP

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