France struggling to get G8 accord on Libya no-fly

By REUTERS
March 15, 2011 10:42

Germany seeks to resist military intervention; Italy says no-fly zone would be counterproductive, urges for Security Council to handle violence.

2 minute read.



Group of 8 meets in Paris

Group of 8 (G8) in paris (R) 311. (photo credit:REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes)

PARIS - France is struggling to persuade its Group of Eight partners to support a push for the UN Security Council to impose a no-fly zone in Libya, with Russia and Germany showing resistance at talks in Paris.

As G8 foreign ministers headed into a second round of talks on Tuesday, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said other nations were proving more cautious than Paris over taking action to halt the bloodshed in Libya.

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"So far I have not convinced them," Juppe told France's Europe 1 radio, asked about France's drive to win an agreement in Paris on supporting a no-fly zone.

France, along with Britain, has led calls to impose an internationally enforced no-fly zone to try and halt the advance of Muammar Gaddafi's troops, which are crushing a revolt by poorly armed rebels against 41 years of authoritarian rule.

Juppe said that while the international community drags its feet on taking action, Gaddafi's forces were advancing.

"If we had used military force last week ... maybe the reversal that went against the opposition (forces) would not have happened," he said.

President Nicolas Sarkozy is keen to show leadership in Libya to try and restore France's foreign policy image, which was weakened by a series of blunders over the uprising in Tunisia late last year.

The UN Security Council has discussed a call by the Arab League for a UN no-fly zone, but no consensus emerged among its 15 members and Russia raised questions about the proposal.

After a G8 dinner on Monday evening in Paris, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle voiced skepticism about a no-fly zone, telling reporters it amounted to a military intervention.

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said Russia had argued that a no-fly zone would not be effective and could be counterproductive. He said that rather than push for a no-fly zone, the G8 would urge the Security Council to discuss new measures that could curb the violence in Libya.

The two-day G8 meeting winds up with a news conference on Tuesday afternoon.

Air strikes hit east Libyan town

Forces loyal to Gaddafi launched at least four air strikes on Tuesday on the eastern Libyan town of Ajdabiyah, Al Jazeera television reported.

Ajdabiyah was also subject to air strikes on Monday, the latest town to be targeted as government forces have advanced eastwards towards the rebel-held stronghold of Benghazi.

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