Europe planning for Libya force despite UN concern: France

22nd April 2011, Comments 0 comments

The European Union is continuing to plan for a possible military intervention to bring aid to the besieged rebel Libya city of Misrata despite UN reservations, the French foreign ministry said Friday.

"Faced with the worsening humanitarian situation, in particular in Misrata, the multinational general staff in Rome is continuing to plan for a military operation to support humanitarian aid," spokeswoman Christine Fages said.

"The European Union is ready to respond to any UN request."

While pushing for more coalition air strikes on Moamer Kadhafi's forces and giving strong political support to the Libyan rebellion against him, France has said that Europe will not send in ground troops without UN approval.

For the past two weeks, military officers from EU countries have been meeting in Italy to plan for a "EUFOR Libya", a European intervention force designed to protect civilians and escort humanitarian aid.

But the United Nations has not yet asked for boots on the ground, and many member states have opposed the idea of outside military intervention.

Asked on Wednesday whether she wanted the help of EU troops, UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos told reporters: "Not at the moment, we are able to get in using civilian means."

Amos joined private aid agencies in expressing concern about the "blurred lines" between humanitarian and military operations.

Kadhafi's regime has warned that it will put up "armed resistance" to any attempt to get soldiers into Libya to protect humanitarian deliveries.

But Amos said the United Nations has an agreement with the European Union and NATO to, if the security situation warrants it, "call on them for support of military assets."

© 2011 AFP

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