France pushes to 'speed up' Libya no-fly zone

13th March 2011, Comments 0 comments

France is pushing to "speed up" multilateral efforts for a no-fly zone over Libya to curb the civil conflict there, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said in a statement Sunday.

Juppe hailed the Arab League, the 22-country bloc whose support is judged crucial for tackling the region, for supporting proposals led by France and Britain for a UN Security Council resolution to impose a no-fly zone.

"France hails in particular the Arab League's call to the Security Council to immediately impose a no-fly zone against Libyan military aircraft and establish a safety zone in the areas exposed to bombardment," he said.

"France is going to speed up its efforts in the coming hours, together with the EU, Arab League, UN Security Council and the Libyan National Transition Council," he added, referring lastly to the Libyan opposition.

France has formally recognised the council as Libya's legitimate representatives. The European Union as a whole has not gone that far but has agreed to meet them to discuss the crisis.

Russia and China have appeared reluctant to back the no-fly zone while the United States, Germany and Italy have taken a cautious line on intervention, which Washington and the European Union say can only happen with a UN mandate.

Following an internal uprising against Libyan ruler Moamer Kadhafi last month, forces loyal to him have launched a fierce bombardment of the rebels, driving them out of several towns.

France hosts talks on Monday and Tuesday of foreign ministers from the Group of Eight , which includes all the Security Council's permanent members except China.

"The situation in Libya will be discussed at the G8 ministerial meeting," Juppe's statement said.

© 2011 AFP

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