France, Britain agree more Libya 'military pressure': source

14th April 2011, Comments 0 comments

French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister David Cameron agreed at a meeting Wednesday to step up military pressure on Moamer Kadhafi's regime in Libya, a French presidency source said.

During a working dinner in Paris, Sarkozy and Cameron agreed to increase "military pressure" on Kadhafi who "stays determined to maintain his war effort against his own population," the source said.

"All means must be made available" in the fight against Kadhafi, the source said, amid efforts by London and Paris to step up pressure on their NATO allies to help defeat his regime.

"It is important that the coalition shows its total determination to protect the civilian population, to end the sieges -- worthy of the Middle Ages -- of Misrata and Zenten, and to make Kadhafi's troops return to their barracks," the French source said.

Paris and London led international calls for action to prevent Kadhafi's regime from cracking down on a revolt against his rule, and now complain that they have been left with too great a share of the military operation.

"The reason for being here in Paris tonight is that Britain and France are at the heart of this coalition," Cameron told broadcaster Sky News in Paris before the meeting.

"With President Sarkozy, I'm going to be sitting down and making sure we leave absolutely no stone unturned in doing everything we can, militarily, diplomatically, politically to enforce the UN resolution," he said.

France and Britain believe that a United Nations Security Council resolution passed last month to authorise force to protect civilians in Libya authorises a NATO-led coalition to bombard Kadhafi's heavy weapons.

Cameron said France and Britain want "to put real pressure on Kadhafi and to stop the appalling murder of civilians that he is still carrying out.

"I'll be talking with President Sarkozy about what more we can do, how can we help the opposition, how can we make more military pressure through NATO, what we can do to target this regime and the dreadful things they are doing."

The two leaders did not make public statements after the meeting, which was also attended by their defence ministers, France's Gerard Longuet and Britain's Liam Fox.

The Paris talks came a day before the NATO alliance holds a meeting in Berlin that is expected to be dominated by the Libyan crisis, and one month after the start of US, French and British airstrikes.

A senior French official earlier said the meeting was to ensure the two countries, which led international calls for action against Kadhafi, were still on the same page as they lobby their NATO allies to act more aggressively.

Both France and Britain have complained the other Western allies are not sharing enough of the burden of enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya and in bombing Kadhafi's artillery and armoured vehicles on the ground.

They have warned that without greater support from other NATO powers it will be hard for British and French jets to break the regime's siege of rebel-held Libyan cities like Misrata, where civilians are caught up in fighting.

"It is appalling what Kadhafi is doing in Misrata," Cameron told Sky. "But NATO has taken steps. We have destroyed dozens of tanks and other armoured vehicles around Misrata. We are taking action."

The international contact group on Libya began its first meeting Wednesday under the joint chairmanship of host nation Qatar and Britain, with UN chief Ban Ki-moon among the top-level delegates.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague told the contact group that members should maintain "pressure on the Kadhafi regime by implementing the Security Council resolution and enforcing sanctions... making clear that Kadhafi has to leave."

© 2011 AFP

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