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Belgium opposes arming Libyan rebels

Belgium voiced its opposition to arming Libya’s rebels on Wednesday, warning that the idea being considered by US, French and British officials could alienate Arab nations.

Belgian Foreign Minister Steven Vanackere, whose country has deployed fighter jets as part of a NATO-led campaign to protect Libyan civilians, said providing weapons to the insurgents would be “a step too far.”

“This would cost us the support of the Arab world,” he said.

Vanackere denied that the West was leading a “crusade” against Moamer Kadhafi’s regime.

He said the aim of the international military operations in Libya — mandated by a United Nations Security Council resolution aimed at protecting civilians — was not to remove Kadhafi by force.

“The goal is not to use force until Kadhafi steps down,” Vanackere told VRT radio.

The United States, France and Britain — the nations that have led air strikes against Kadhafi forces — have all refused to rule out providing weapons to the opposition in Libya.