Britain expects Arab participation in Libya within days

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British Defence Secretary Liam Fox said Sunday he expected the first Arab nation to join the military campaign against Libya within days.

"I hope that we will see, hopefully by the end of today, certainly by tomorrow, the first of the Arab nations participating and sending assets into the area," Fox told the BBC.

"I spoke this morning to some of the leaders of the Arab countries who said that they might be involved and got a very warm response and I hope that that will become apparent."

Asked to clarify the timetable for when they may join action to enforce a United Nations no-fly zone and ceasefire, he said: "Certainly in the next couple of days."

The Arab League on Sunday criticised military strikes by Britain, France and the United States on Libya overnight, a week after urging the UN to slap a no-fly zone on the north African state.

Fox added: "I think it's very important for opinion in the Arab world to show this is not simply the West acting, but this is the international coalition acting.

"And to have active Arab participation in the no-fly zone makes it very clear on the Arab street that this is not about attacking the Arab world, this is to defend the Libyan people against a vicious and brutal dictatorship."

Qatar is the only Arab state to have promised Saturday at an emergency meeting in Paris to participate in military operations. A UN diplomat said the United Arab Emirates would also participate, but this has not been confirmed.

© 2011 AFP

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