'Military means' not the answer in Libya: Germany

1st April 2011, Comments 0 comments

Germany's foreign minister said Friday the situation in Libya could not be solved through "military means" and called for a ceasefire, amid a NATO-led air campaign against Moamer Kadhafi's forces.

Guido Westerwelle made the comments after meeting his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi in Beijing on an official trip that will be followed by a visit to disaster-struck Japan.

"There can only be a political resolution and we must get the political process underway. That should begin with a ceasefire that Kadhafi must heed to allow the peace process to begin," Westerwelle told reporters.

US, British, French, Canadian, Danish and Belgian jets have attacked Libyan military targets since March 19 under UN Security Council resolution 1973, which authorised "all necessary measures" to protect civilians.

The coalition campaign aims to oust Kadhafi, who is currently fighting an insurgency against his 41-year rule.

China and Germany abstained from the vote on the resolution, which established a no-fly zone over the North African state, and are not participating in the military action against the Libyan strongman's regime.

Yang noted this, saying it showed that "both countries have reservations on different levels."

"We emphasise that Resolution 1973 was conceived as a means of ending the violence and protecting civilians. We are therefore worried by continued reports of deaths and injuries among civilians and continuing clashes," Yang said.

"We hope that the relevant countries will adhere to the resolution and respect Libya's independence and sovereignty. The matter must be dealt with appropriately by diplomatic and political means."

China has been increasingly scathing about the coalition campaign, and President Hu Jintao on Wednesday warned that the air strikes could violate the "original intention" of resolution 1973.

Speaking to his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy, who was in China for a G20 meeting on global monetary reform before making a brief stop in Japan, Hu said the use of force was no answer to the situation in Libya.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel meanwhile has come under fire from some members of her Christian Democrat party for not taking part in the military operations, which are now being led by NATO.

Admiral Mike Mullen, the US military's top officer, has said about 20 to 25 percent of Kadhafi's military has been knocked out by the strikes but "that does not mean he's about to break from a military standpoint."

© 2011 AFP

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