Cameron says important to stick to UN Libya remit

French foreign minister comments that "destruction of Gaddafi's military" to take days or weeks; Western warplanes hit Libya for a fifth night.

By REUTERS
March 24, 2011 11:58
2 minute read.
British Prime Minister David Cameron.

David Cameron 311. (photo credit: Reuters)

 
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NOTTINGHAM - International coalition forces operating in Libya should not stray beyond the remit allowed under the United Nations resolution, British Prime Minister David Cameron said on Thursday.



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"It is very important we don't go beyond that in any way," Cameron said in a visit to an industrial site in central England when asked if Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was a legitimate target.



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Cameron also said military action by the coalition had "helped to avoid a slaughter" in Benghazi.

Western warplanes hit Libyan tanks on a fifth night of airstrikes on Thursday but failed to stop Muammar Gaddafi's forces shelling rebel-held towns in the west or dislodge his armour in the east.

Air strikes destroyed government tanks on the outskirts of the rebel-held city of Misrata, but other tanks inside the city were not hit, a resident said.

Earlier, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said it may take a coalition of Western powers days or weeks to destroy Muammar Gaddafi's military, but it will not require months.


"The destruction of Gaddafi's military capacity is a matter of days or weeks, certainly not months," Juppe told reporters.

He also defended the pace of the operation, adding: "You can't expect us to achieve our objective in just five days."

France spearheaded the UN-mandated intervention aimed at halting Gaddafi's counter-offensive against rebel forces who want to end 41 years of authoritarian rule.

Paris is now pushing, along with Britain, for the setting up of a contact group -- to be made up of the main countries involved in the operation and others including Arab nations that back it -- to discuss political governance and strategy for the mission, while NATO runs day-to-day military coordination.

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Juppe said Arab leaders needed to understand that the tide of protests sweeping the region would change things for good and that all countries, including Saudi Arabia, needed to take into account the aspirations of the Arab people.

"The process going on in the Arab world is irreversible. People's aspirations must be taken into consideration everywhere, including in Saudi Arabia," he said.

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