US 'disagrees' with Russia on arms to Libya rebels

30th June 2011, Comments 0 comments

The United States Thursday disputed Russia's contention that France's reported arms drop to Libyan rebels would amount to a UN Security Council violation.

"We believed that UN Security Council Resolutions 1970 and 1973, read together... neither specified nor precluded providing defense materiel to the Libyan opposition," State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner said.

"So my bottom line is, we would respectfully disagree with the Russian assessment," Toner told reporters.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, quoted by Russian news agencies, demanded an explanation from France over the reported arms drop, and said: "If this is confirmed, it would be a brazen violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1970."

Russia's top diplomat was referring to a February resolution that prohibited states from providing any kind of arms to Libya.

It was followed by Resolution 1973 in March that authorized nations "to take all necessary measures" to help protect civilians against Colonel Moamer Kadhafi's forces.

Russia abstained from the second vote and has since criticized the extent of the international involvement.

During a trip to London on March 29, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said countries would legally be allowed to ship arms to Libyan rebels.

"It is our interpretation that (resolution) 1973 amended or overrode the absolute prohibition of arms to anyone in Libya so that there could be legitimate transfer of arms if a country were to choose to do that," Clinton said.

But she the United States had not taken a decision to ship arms to the rebels.

© 2011 AFP

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