France not planning to arm Libya rebels: minister

31st March 2011, Comments 0 comments

France is not planning to arm rebels fighting to oust Libyan ruler Moamer Kadhafi because such a move is not compatible with a UN resolution on the conflict, France's defence minister said Thursday.

"Such assistance is not on the agenda because it is not compatible with resolution 1973," the UN Security Council Resolution that authorised UN members to intervene to protect civilians, minister Gerard Longuet told reporters.

The rebels are battling forces loyal to Kadhafi for control of key towns and have gained momentum from air strikes on pro-Kadhafi forces by the United States, France and Britain.

The resolution authorised UN members to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya to ground Kadhafi's warplanes. Longuet stressed that it "does not currently permit troops on the ground."

France's Foreign Minister Alain Juppe had said Tuesday that France was prepared to discuss with its allies possible military aid to the rebels. The United States has yet to announce a decision on whether to help arm them.

"This is not allowed by either Resolution 1973 or Resolution 1970. For the time being, France is sticking to the strict application of these resolutions," Juppe said in London at an international conference on the crisis.

"Having said that, we are prepared to discuss this with our partners."

© 2011 AFP

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