Britain urges quick NATO command of Libya operation
British Foreign Secretary William Hague urged NATO Thursday to take command of Libyan operations as quickly as possible, while suggesting a UN-led "stabilisation effort" in the longer term.
Hague's comments came as the alliance made fresh attempts to resolve a rift over who will assume control from a US-led coalition launching air strikes against Moamer Kadhafi's forces.
"These coalition operations are currently under US command. But we want them to transition to NATO command and control as quickly as possible," Hague told lawmakers.
Hague said a "unified command and control" was necessary for the operations to be "robust" and added: "We expect to get that soon."
"NATO has already launched its operation to enforce the arms embargo. Its planning is complete for the no-fly zone. And we are making progress in NATO taking on all measures under (UN Security Council) Resolution 1973 needed to protect civilians from Kadhafi's attacks," he added.
Britain has invited NATO allies, a number of Arab nations and key organisations including the UN, Arab League and African Union to London on Tuesday for a conference on Libya, Hague said.
The United States, Britain and France are currently leading efforts to enforce a no-fly zone authorised by UN Security Council resolution 1973 in order to protect civilians from attacks by Kadhafi's loyalists.
"The case for this action remains utterly compelling. Appalling violence against Libyan citizens continues to take place, exposing the regime's claims to have ordered a ceasefire to be an utter sham," Hague added.
NATO member Turkey has said the coalition bombings must stop before the alliance assumes control, while France has warned that full NATO command could discourage Arab nations from joining.
Qatar is the only country from the region to commit military assets so far.
Hague said Britain was also in talks over the post-conflict situation in Libya, where rebels are battling to end Kadhafi's 41-year rule.
"The UK is beginning preliminary consultations with international partners and organisations for an internationally-led stabilisation effort to get Libya back on its feet in the longer term," he said.
"This has to be multilateral, a UN-led effort in our view, and we will be able to have discussions with other nations about that at the conference next week."
NATO envoys were to meet in Brussels again Thursday on the subject of the command structure.
Despite the row, NATO has drawn up the outlines of what its command structure would look like if and when it takes over the no-fly zone, including day-to-day operational command at NATO's base in Naples, Italy.
The 28-nation alliance has also deployed warships off Libya's coast to enforce an arms embargo, with Turkey offering to contribute five warships and a submarine.
© 2011 AFP