Libya no-fly zone talks stall

Muamar Gaddafi

Negotiations are expected to begin on a draft United Nations resolution from the UK, France and Lebanon, which would impose a no-fly zone on Libya.

The resolution also proposes banning commercial flights from bringing arms and mercenaries into Libya.

There is disagreement within the international community about a no-fly zone, to prevent air attacks on rebels. Some fear being “sucked in” to a war.

Four protesters have climbed onto the roof of the Libyan embassy in London.

Police, who were alerted at 0250 GMT, said the protesters removed the embassy’s green flag.

Meanwhile, in a TV speech, Colonel Gaddafi blamed the UK for the uprising in Libya.

He said on Libyan TV: “Britain no longer exists. It is a trace of what it used to be. It has been promoting attack on Libya. Is there a common border between us? Are you our guardian? By what right?”

He went on to “dare” the US, Britain and France to “give their people freedom like I did to the Libyan people”.

Britain is increasing the pressure for a no-fly zone over Libya by tabling the draft resolution at the UN Security Council, along with France and Lebanon.

Germany, Russia and China are said to be among those opposing such proposals, aimed at preventing air attacks on rebels by pro-Gaddafi forces, and the US has yet to declare its position.

The Arab League has backed the idea but a meeting of G8 foreign ministers in Paris failed to do so.

Prime Minister David Cameron authorised formal proposal of the text – which contains a “menu” of options for restraining Col Gaddafi’s regime.

BBC political editor Nick Robinson said the British government was now waiting to find out whether US President Barack Obama was opposed to any military intervention and whether his concerns about the situation in the Gulf would override any interest he had in North Africa.

“Rather than wait for an answer the [UK] prime minister, along with [France’s] President Sarkozy, has decided to try to force the diplomatic pace,” added our correspondent.

‘Slippery slope’

The talks come as fierce fighting continues between Colonel Gaddafi’s troops and opposition groups.

A battle for the eastern town of Brega has been ongoing. The oil town has changed hands several times over recent days and reports have suggested the rebels are losing control.

In the west, government forces appear to have retaken Zuwara and were shelling Misrata city.

On Tuesday, Libyan government planes also bombed the outskirts of Ajdabiya, the last town before the rebel base in Benghazi, in the east.

Talks on a no-fly zone have been held in recent days between British representatives at the UN and their US, German and Lebanese counterparts.

It was also discussed by Nato defence ministers last week, who agreed a clear UN mandate would be needed should Nato be involved.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the Arab League had not “formalised” its decision to back a no-fly zone on Saturday, adding that it had stated in the same declaration that it was “categorically opposed to any foreign intervention, particularly military intervention, in Libyan affairs”.

And on Tuesday German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle warned against military intervention, adding: “We do not want to get sucked into a war in North Africa and we would not like to step on a slippery slope where we all are, at the end, in a war.”

The BBC’s Barbara Plett at the UN said there was still much dissent at the UN, and in Europe, over a no-fly zone.

She said the US was believed to be reticent about getting involved and there was a great fear about getting sucked into another war.

She said diplomats would consult with their capital cities overnight before negotiations were expected to start on Wednesday.

A UN diplomat told the BBC the draft resolution would establish a ban on all flights in Libya, would authorise member states to enforce it and call on them to participate in it.

Aside from the no-fly zone it also urges stronger enforcement of the arms embargo, adds names, companies and entities to the sanctions list, bans commercial flights from bringing arms and mercenaries into Libya and would set up an expert panel to monitor implementation.

Mr Cameron said last week that a no-fly zone would have to be “necessary, legal and win broad support” but added Europe must be “ready to act” if the situation in Libya required it.

Rebel leaders in Libya have appealed for international help in limiting Col Gaddafi’s resources as his forces maintain their onslaught on rebel positions in the east of Libya.

Col Gaddafi has said on state television that the Libyan people would take up arms, if a no-fly zone was imposed by Western nations or the UN.
Source: BBC

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