French foreign minister says world wants Kadhafi to go

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France's top diplomat on Thursday said that although forcing out Moamer Kadhafi was not mentioned in the UN resolution authorising NATO's assault on Libya, it is what most countries wanted.

Security Council resolution 1973 gave the green light to a no fly zone imposed in Libyan air space and an aerial bombing campaign designed to protect civilians from the Kadhafi regime's brutality, Alain Juppe said.

Even though the resolution did not call for Kadhafi's departure, "it's what we are demanding," Juppe told journalists in the Algerian capital.

"This is the European position," he explained," adding that Kadhafi's ouster is also sought by "a very large majority of the international community."

Juppe noted the Arab League's assertion that "when a head of state uses its artillery and its weapons against the population, it must go," as "it has lost all legitimacy."

He said the ongoing military intervention in Libya "is not an end in itself," agreeing with the Algerian government that a "political solution" to the conflict is preferred by all concerned.

France currently has "very close relations" with the rebels' National Transitional Council, Juppe said. It was the first country to recognise the umbrella group of forces fighting to topple Kadhafi.

A large chunk of the international community has now recognised the council as the sole legitimate representative of the Libyan people.

Algeria has however not officially recognised the rebel council, nor has it called for Kadhafi to go, but it has complied with UN resolutions by freezing any assets held in Algeria by him, his relatives and cronies.

Algerian Foreign Minister Mourad Medelci, asked by journalists if Algiers has any plans to recognise the rebel council, said his government was following directives from the African Union and Arab League, which have both withheld recognition.

The two institutions have instead called for a roadmap to peacefully resolve the conflict in Libya.

Juppe arrived in Algeria on Wedneday for a one day visit during which he met Medelci, Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia, and President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

The last French foreign minister to visit Algeria was Bernard Kouchner, in May 2008.

© 2011 AFP

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