French Defence Minister Alain Juppe said Thursday that he hoped Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi "lives his last moments at head of state," with hundreds already dead in protests against his regime.
"France has taken an extremely clear position. I wish with all my heart for Kadhafi to live his last moments at head of state," Juppe told France Inter radio.
"What he's done, what he's decided to do, that's to say firing heavy weaponry on his people, is naturally unacceptable."
Kadhafi has ruled Libya with an iron-fist since a 1969 coup but he is not officially head of state. His brutal suppression of protests has drawn harsh criticism from around the world, which is mulling what action, if any, to take.
"Sometimes people talk about non-interference in the affairs of countries around the planet, but there's another duty which has been very clearly adopted by the United Nations, that's the responsibility to protect," Juppe said.
"When a government isn't capable of protecting its population itself, when it attacks it, then the international community has the duty to intervene," Juppe said.
"That's what the Security Council did in a very clear statement. That's what the European Union did. We're currently working on financial, commercial, and political sanctions measures, which could be taken."
Juppe also said that a foreign military intervention in Libya was not currently on the cards, although setting up and enforcing a no-fly zone is "worth looking at."
Juppe was asked about the possibility of a foreign military intervention in Libya, where Kadhafi's forces have been using military hardware including warplanes against anti-regime protesters.
"No. There's no military intervention," he said. "But toughening sanctions of any kind that can be taken, in particular of airspace, is worth looking at."
US Defence Secretary Robert Gates said on Wednesday that France and Italy would be best placed to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya.
Juppe said of Gates: "People expect everything of France in the Mediterranean. Let's try to act together."
© 2011 AFP
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