NATO ministers seek consensus on Libya in Berlin talks

08:19, April 15, 2011      

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UK's Foreign Minister William Hague (C) is welcomed by German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle (R) and NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen upon his arrival ahead of NATO Foreign Ministers meeting in Berlin, April 14, 2011. (Xinhua/Wu Wei)

NATO foreign ministers gathered Thursday to narrow divisions on the pace of military operation in Libya, amid calls for intensifying diplomatic efforts for a political solution to the Libyan crisis.

The focus of the two-day summit was on the Unified Protector Operation, endorsed last month by UN Security Council Resolution 1973, which authorized a no-fly zone over Libya. The measure was aimed at protecting civilians from fighting between troops loyal to leader Muammar Qadhafi and the rebel forces.

However, three weeks of air strikes have not reached the expectations of the initiators, such as France and Britain, as well as the rebels, who kept urging the Western alliance to step up bombing on Gaddafi's tanks and artillery.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in opening remarks that NATO and partner forces will take every measure possible to prevent Gaddafi's attacks on his own people and will maintain "a high operational tempo" to degrade the military capacity of Gaddafi's forces.

Rasmussen also said that "military power alone cannot prevent the solution to this crisis. It is for the people of Libya to decide their future."

However, how to best help Libyan people decide the future reaches no consensus with the Western alliance. Only six out of NATO's 28 members are conducting air strikes in Libya as the United States has moved into a back-up role. NATO members also hold different views on issues like arming and financing the rebels.

France and Britain have asked partners to contribute more combat jets for intensifying military pressure against Gaddafi, while Germany insisted that "military solution" was never on its desk.

Downplaying the rifts among the alliance, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stressed that NATO members are "sharing the same goal, which is to see the end of the Gadhafi regime in Libya."

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said Gadhafi has lost all legitimacy and must leave.

"We have together succeeded in finally pushing through a comprehensive sanctions policy -- there is now an oil and gas embargo and Gadhafi's cash reserves cannot be replenished," he said.

Source: Xinhua

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