British PM calls for NATO to take Libya command

21st March 2011, Comments 0 comments

British Prime Minister David Cameron called Monday for NATO to eventually take over command of operations in Libya as European nations wrangled over the alliance's role in the conflict.

"At the moment there is basically an American command and control under which French and British and others are operating," Cameron told parliament ahead of a vote on coalition military strikes on Libya.

"Over time we want this to transition to a NATO command, a NATO command and control using NATO machinery, so all the partners in NATO and all those who want to contribute from outside can be properly coordinated," he added.

"Now that might easily still be an American individual or a French individual or a British individual but it would be under the auspices of NATO."

The "others" that Cameron referred to are mainly Arab countries that the West is trying to get involved in implementing a UN Security Council resolution to stop Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi attacking rebel forces.

Qatar is expected to contribute fighter jets to the force, but the United Arab Emirates said Monday that its contribution would be strictly humanitarian.

NATO allies struggled Monday to overcome divisions about a role in the military operation in Libya during meetings in Brussels, even as more nations joined the coalition.

France has resisted pressure to let the alliance take over, fearing it could scare off Arab nations, while Turkey criticised the bombing campaign.

NATO members France, Britain and the United States have acted as individual nations in the air and sea campaign against Kadhafi's regime, with US military officers coordinating operations from bases in Germany and Italy.

© 2011 AFP

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