Spain indefinitely extends mandate for Libya mission

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The Spanish parliament voted on Monday to indefinitely extend Spain's mandate to take part in the NATO-led international military operation aimed at preventing attacks on civilians in Libya.

After a debate lasting more than three hours, all parliamentary parties with the exception of the United Left voted in favour of the request for the extension from the government of Socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.

Defence Minister Carme Chacon welcomed the extension, saying that the work of Spanish airplanes "remains essential to provide security to the operations".

"We know that we must maintain a firm commitment. If we lower our guard in the skies, if we neglect the surveillance in the seas or if on land we do not look after the population, we will make a huge step backwards," she added.

Spain has sent four F-18 fighter jets and a Boeing 707-refuelling plane to help enforce a no-fly zone over Libya.

It has also deployed a frigate, the S7-74 submarine Tramontana and a CN-235 maritime patrol plane to enforce an arms embargo.

Chacon said the mission will cost Madrid around 14.4 million euros ($20.6 million) per month.

The original mandate was limited to one month. In April the mandate was extended for another two months.

© 2011 AFP

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