Libya political solution taking shape: France
A political settlement to the Libya conflict is "beginning to take shape", French Prime Minister Francois Fillon told parliament on Tuesday.
"A political solution in Libya is more indispensable than ever and it is beginning to take shape," he said, as lawmakers debated prolonging France's role in the bombing campaign against Libyan ruler Moamer Kadhafi's regime.
Under the French constitution, parliamentary approval is needed to extend an overseas military engagement beyond four months. French lawmakers were expected to do so after the opposition indicated it would agree to an extension.
The lower house was due to vote later Tuesday, followed by the Senate.
Fillon urged them to approve a continuation of the mission, saying the situation there "has not ceased to evolve in the right direction" since the campaign against the regime started on March 19.
"Our cause is just. That is why the government and parliament do not flinch from their responsibilities," he said.
France was the first foreign power to formally recognise the leaders of Libyan rebel movement as legitimate representatives of their country.
France said on Monday it has had indirect contact with Kadhafi's regime with a view to negotiating his departure from power, which it says is a condition for any ceasefire.
"We never said or thought that the intervention in Libya was going to be easy and end after a few days," Fillon said Tuesday.
"Everywhere, free Libyans are gaining ground. It is now Kadhafi, whose air force and navy have been almost completely destroyed, who is feeling the squeeze."
© 2011 AFP