Britain sees full NATO control in Libya 'within days'

25th March 2011, Comments 0 comments

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Friday he expected NATO to take full command of military operations in Libya "within a matter of days", after the alliance agreed to enforce a no-fly zone.

He denied the international community was divided over the UN-sanctioned no-fly zone and ceasefire in Libya, aimed at protecting civilians from Moamer Kadhafi's forces, and said a meeting in London next week would make that clear.

In an interview with the BBC, Hague welcomed NATO's decision late Thursday to take control of enforcing the no-fly zone as "a very good step forward".

"I think within a matter of days NATO will be able to command the whole operation, with the input from Arab nations who are also taking part," he said.

After marathon talks focused on Turkey's objections to the US-led coalition's bombing campaign, NATO agreed to enforce the no-fly zone late Thursday but had yet to authorise attacks on Kadhafi's ground forces.

Hague denied the discussions had revealed splits in the international community and said the unified position would be clear in London Tuesday at the meeting attended by foreign ministers from participating nations.

"What we've been talking about here are the details of command and control. But that is not at all a split in the international community," he said.

"We will be hosting in London next Tuesday a major conference of the nations involved in this, the European nations, United States and Arab nations who are supporting the implementation of the UN resolution.

"And I think that will demonstrate the international unity on this subject. It will also help to lock in the commitments that are increasing all the time of military and financial support for the enforcement of the UN resolution."

Hague added: "If the Kadhafi regime thinks that the international will and unity on this is faltering in any way, they are in for quite a surprise."

© 2011 AFP

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