Gates: NATO planning for all military options on Libya

Rasmussen: NATO will attack only if there is demonstrable need, clear legal basis and regional support; EU extends sanctions on Libya.

By REUTERS, JPOST.COM STAFF
March 10, 2011 19:17
2 minute read.
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen

NATO Chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)

BRUSSELS - NATO has agreed to continue planning for all military options on Libya, the US defense secretary said on Thursday.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that NATO had agreed to reposition ships closer to Libya, but was not increasing the number of ships in the Mediterranean.

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"It's my impression that we're really not talking so much about increasing the number of ships, as it is about repositioning ships that are already in the region (closer to Libya)," he told reporters after a NATO meeting.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on Thursday any NATO military action in Libya would have to be based on there being a demonstrable need,  a clear mandate and with support in the region.

"Any operation we undertake needs to respect three key principles: firstly there has to be demonstrable need for NATO action, secondly there has to be a clear legal basis, and thirdly there has to be firm regional support," he said, as NATO defense ministers met to discuss options to respond to the turmoil in Libya, including a possible no-fly zone.

At the start of a meeting to discuss Libya, Rasmussen said that the military alliance stands ready to help and that time is of the essence.

Speaking to reporters, he said that "we are currently seeing the start of a new era of freedom, which can generate peace, prosperity and progress."

Invoking the fall of the Soviet bloc, Rasmussen added, "Just over 20 years ago, many countries in Central and Eastern Europe faced similar challenges and turmoil." Today, he said, they are now "strong democracies and allies" who are sitting at this very [NATO] table.



Click for full Jpost coverage of turmoil in the Middle East

The European Union formally extended its embargo on Libya to include five financial organizations and one individual on Thursday, with the restrictions taking force from Friday, diplomats said.

None of the EU's 27 member states raised objections to the Libyan Investment Authority, the central bank, three other financial organizations and a former senior finance official being added to the sanctions list, making the additions effective.

The restrictions will be published in the EU's Official Journal on Friday, which is when they become law.

The Libyan Investment Authority is a sovereign wealth fund with around $70 billion invested across a range of European assets, including banks, the Juventus soccer team, Italian carmaker Fiat FIA.M, defense company Finmeccanica SpA and British-based publisher Pearson.

The sanctions mean that all LIA's holdings in EU-based assets will be frozen, and it will not be allowed to receive dividends or sell any stakes.


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