China says obey UN after France admission on Libya
China on Thursday called on nations involved in the Libyan conflict to stick to the UN mandate authorising military action, after France acknowledged arming rebel fighters.
"China calls on the international community to strictly follow the spirit of the relevant resolution of the UN Security Council," foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters in response to a question on France's admission.
He also urged countries involved to "avoid taking any action that goes beyond the mandate of the resolution."
The French ambassador to the United Nations said Wednesday that his country's delivery of arms to rebels was not in breach of a resolution adopted in February that established an arms embargo to Libya.
He said France had decided to provide "self-defence weapons" to civilian populations in rebel-held areas because they were "under threat."
Article 4 of UN Security Council Resolution 1973 -- which was adopted in March -- specifies that allowances can be made to the embargo if they are in the interest of protecting civilians.
But Britain -- which along with France is spearheading the NATO-led air campaign targeting the forces of Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi -- has declined to follow suit in arming the rebels over concerns about UN authorisation.
The African Union on Thursday condemned the flow of arms into Libya after France said it had been air-dropping weapons to Berber tribal fighters southwest of the capital.
China, a permanent Council member, abstained from the vote on Resolution 1973, and has insisted on maintaining a policy of non-interference and public neutrality on the Libyan conflict.
But it has recently shown willingness to engage in the crisis, holding talks with both government officials and rebel leaders.
Last week, Beijing recognised Libya's opposition as an "important dialogue partner" after talks in the Chinese capital between Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and senior rebel leader Mahmud Jibril.
Hong on Thursday reiterated calls for a "political resolution" to the conflict.
© 2011 AFP