Belgium offers jets for Libya no-fly zone

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Belgium offered Friday to deploy F-16 fighter jets and warships for a military intervention in Libya, either as part of a coalition of the willing or under NATO's umbrella.

Prime Minister Yves Leterme told a parliament committee said the government decided to take part in the military action after the UN Security Council approved it late Thursday.

The "precise definition" of this participation will be decided in the next few hours, Leterme said.

Foreign Minister Steven Vanacker said the UN resolution left the door open to an intervention by an organisation or individual governments, although Brussels, home of NATO headquarters, would prefer an alliance mission.

"Given our tradition, we will favour efforts within NATO but we do not rule out the other path, which consists of working with (UN) members that would be united in a coalition of the willing," he told AFP.

Defence Minister Pieter De Crem said Belgium had six F-16 fighter jets and an anti-mine ship committed to the NATO Reaction Force.

He noted that Belgium also has frigates and seven other F-16 warplanes taking part in exercises in Greece.

© 2011 AFP

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