Libya no-fly zone a UN decision, 'not US': Clinton

9th March 2011, Comments 0 comments

Any decision to impose a no-fly zone over battle-torn Libya should be taken by the United Nations and "not the United States", US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said.

"I think it's very important that it is not a US-led effort because this comes from the people of Libya themselves," Clinton told Sky News on Tuesday. "We think it is important that the United Nations make that decision.

"This doesn't come from the outside. This doesn't come from some Western power or some Gulf country saying: 'This is what you should do.'"

The United States came in for severe international criticism when it invaded Iraq in 2003, an action which Kofi Annan, the then secretary general of the United Nations, said "was not in conformity with the UN Charter".

"We'd like to see this resolved peacefully, we'd like to see him (Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi) go peacefully and we'd like to see a new government come peacefully," explained Clinton.

"If that's not possible we are going to work with the international community, but there are countries that do not agree with that.

"There is long road ahead for being able to resolve this," warned Clinton.

Fighting intensified in the north Africa country Tuesday as pro-Kadhafi forces launched air and rocket attacks on rebels in Zawiya, sources in the town said.

"We've called for Kadhafi to leave and he has totally given up any legitimacy to power. When a leader turns against his own people that is the end," stated Clinton.

The UN Security Council Tuesday discussed the possibility of imposing a no-fly zone during talks on the turmoil sweeping North Africa, a UN official confirmed.

"There were lots of issues that were discussed this morning, the no-fly zone was one of the issues," UN under secretary general Lynn Pascoe told reporters after briefing the 15-nation Security Council.

"There was a very serious, a very much inter-active discussion on the various issues involved and the role of the council and the role of the secretariat," he added.

Clinton's remarks echoed earlier comments from British Foreign Secretary William Hague.

"There must be a demonstrable need that is accepted broadly by the international community, as well as the strong international support that would come from that," Hague said.

Republican senator John McCain later told BBC's Newsnight programme that the US should consider immediate action.

"People are being massacred. Isn't it an obligation that the world has to stop a mad dictator from massacring his own people?" asked the 2008 presidential candidate.

"If we don't have the military capability to take on their defences and their air force, then we have wasted a great deal of American treasure. We can handle the Libyan air force and defences, I know we can," he added.

Earlier Tuesday, US President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron agreed to plan a "full spectrum of responses" on Libya, including a no-fly zone, surveillance and a relief effort, Cameron's Downing Street office said.

The British leader later slammed Kadhafi on popular BBC entertainment programme, "The One Show".

"I had a phone call with President Obama this afternoon to talk about the planning we have to do in case this continues and in case he does terrible things to his own people," said Cameron.

"I don't think we can stand aside and let that happen, we have got to prepare for what we might have to do if he (Kadhafi) goes on brutalising his own people."

Cameron added that international efforts were beginning to weaken the Libyan leader.

"Don't underestimate the extent to which all that isolation, the fact that the UN Security Council came together and passed that resolution very quickly.

"We need to keep on doing those things to isolate this man and his regime and say that he has got to go," he said.

© 2011 AFP

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