France 'very clear' on UN mandate for Libya no-fly zone

12th March 2011, Comments 0 comments

France insisted Saturday it was "very clear" on the need for a UN mandate to authorise a no-fly zone in Libya, after President Nicolas Sarkozy implied it might not be required.

The "conditions" for a military intervention in Libya included "a United Nations mandate, on that we have been very clear. The president's statements are very explicit on this point," France's Foreign Minister Alain Juppe told journalists on the margins of informal talks with his EU counterparts in Godollo, near Budapest.

On Friday, Sarkozy, who has been pushing for a no-fly zone in Libya to prevent attacks by leader Moamer Kadhafi against his own people, had seemed less adamant.

"A United Nations mandate is necessary, it is preferable," he said.

"If there is no mandate and there is a regional and Libyan request, we will see."

Juppe however reassured on Saturday: "We do not want to go to Libya to install a government."

"We simply want to have the means to protect populations if a massacre were to occur."

European Union leaders have called for a "clear legal basis" to back up any military intervention in Libya, a solution favoured by Britain and France to protect the revolting population from attacks by Kadhafi's forces.

"A UN mandate is necessary particularly when we have to keep the international community united," Italy's Foreign Minister Franco Frattini told reporters in Godollo.

"We need a European unanimous position and we need an international legal framework. And for us the best international legal framework is to have a (UN) Security Council resolution allowing eventually for a no-fly zone."

His Maltese counterpart Tonio Borg said there was "a reluctance as regards a military operation, particularly if not backed by the UN" while German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle warned against being "pulled into a war."

The possibility of negotiating a ceasefire as an alternative to the military option was raised at the meeting, backed by a group of countries including Malta, Italy, Greece and Cyprus.

"I have called for a ceasefire followed by a national dialogue... it is in everybody's interest that the fight should stop," Borg said.

"There are two schools of thought, one urges the use of military force, and the other, supported by a certain number of member states, which says that a ceasefire is the card we should play," an EU diplomat wishing to remain unnamed said.

On Friday, EU leaders meeting in Brussels said they "would examine all necessary options (to protect civilians), provided that there is a demonstrable need, a clear legal basis and support from the region."

© 2011 AFP

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