'Significant' military action in Libya should recede: Gates

22nd March 2011, Comments 0 comments

"Significant" military action in Libya should recede in a matter of days, US Defence Secretary Robert Gates said Tuesday during talks with his Russian counterpart.

Gates said that international forces were trying to minimize civilian casualities in Libya, adding that "significant military fighting that has been going on should recede in the next few days."

The Pentagon chief later confirmed that he was referring to US and allied bombing raids, saying that there would be less need for air strikes once Moamer Kadkhafi's regime's air defences are eliminated.

"I think as we are successful at suppressing the air defences the level of kinetic activity should decline," he told reporters travelling with him.

His comments came a day after US President Barack Obama said Washington would be reducing its role in the operation shortly.

Gates arrived in Moscow amid furious comments from Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who compared the UN resolution that allowed air strikes on Libya to a medieval call to a crusade.

The comments were later watered down by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who suggested that Moscow could help mediate an end to the conflict while confirming his disapproval of Kadhafi's actions.

Russian Defence Ministry Anatoly Serduykov said he told Gates of "our opposition" to civilian casualties.

© 2011 AFP

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