Germany ready to support humanitarian mission in Libya
Germany said Friday its troops could support a humanitarian mission in Libya, but denied this is was a U-turn to fix diplomatic damage done by its refusal to support military action at the UN.
"In the last cabinet meeting (on Wednesday) the basic readiness was expressed ... that if a request were made to the EU, Germany would live up to its responsibilities," government spokesman Steffen Seibert told reporters.
The European Union on April 1 decided to set up a military mission to back humanitarian aid efforts in Libya, giving the United Nations a four-month window to call it in. The UN has not done so so far.
The UN Security Council approved a resolution March 17 allowing "all necessary measures" to impose a no-fly zone, protect civilian areas and impose a ceasefire on Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi's military.
But Germany, which currently holds a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council, joined China, Russia, India and Brazil in abstaining, stunning traditional close allies the United States, Britain and France.
Germany even withdrew warships, refusing to let them participate in a NATO operation in the Mediterranean to enforce a UN-mandated arms embargo on Libya.
But Seibert denied that taking part in a humanitarian effort constituted an about-turn aimed at mollifying Germany's allies within Europe and the NATO military alliance.
"If Germany were to take part in military support for such a humanitarian mission, this would of course not be a U-turn," he told a regular government briefing.
"Our position was always that Germany would not participate in combat operations in Libya ... This would be about ensuring with military means that humanitarian aid gets to those who need it."
© 2011 AFP