Libya action differs from Iraq war: Britain's Clegg

29th March 2011, Comments 0 comments

Deputy British Prime Minister Nick Clegg said Tuesday that the intervention in Libya is different from the war in Iraq, which he opposed, and hailed a "new axis of openness" in international affairs.

"I was a strong opponent of the war in Iraq. It was wrong. But the action being taken in Libya today is right," Clegg said in a foreign policy speech at Mexico City's Chapultepec castle.

Clegg, in Mexico on a trade mission, called for a new era of "multilateralism."

"The lesson of Iraq is not that intervention in support of liberal aims is always wrong. The lesson of Iraq is that any such action must only and must always be multilateral sanctioned and driven by humanitarian concerns," Clegg said.

"The action in Libya doesn't signal a return to the trigger-happy policies of the past. It represents a responsible collective decision to intervene on clear and moral grounds," he added.

"A new 'axis of openness' is forming," Clegg said, in a deliberate contrast to the words of former US president George W. Bush regarding countries he considered to be an "axis of evil."

International powers meeting in London on Tuesday edged closer to an exile plan for embattled Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi, as France said it was ready to discuss military aid for rebels.

More than 40 countries and organizations including the United Nations and NATO agreed to create a contact group to map out a future for Libya and to meet again as soon as possible in the Arab state of Qatar.

Clegg's Liberal Democrats, a junior coalition partner to Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservatives, were the only one of the three main British political parties to oppose the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq.

© 2011 AFP

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