French parliament authorises extension of military mission in Libya

10:53, July 13, 2011      

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The French parliament on Tuesday gave the green light for the extension of the country's military intervention against Libya's Gaddafi regime, while senior officials insisted that political solutions are "to take shape" and contacts going on.

French Senate, the upper house, approved in the evening to prolong the military intervention in Libya with 311 votes for and 24 against the bill proposed by the government. Earlier in the afternoon, deputies of the lower house (the National Assembly) gave a nod to the bill with 482 votes in favor and 27 against.

According to the French constitution amended in 2008, parliamentary commission has to examine any military operation of French troops if their mission exceeds four months.

Before the parliament started debate over the continuation of the operation, Prime Minister Francois Fillon appealed to the legislators to agree with the government, noting a political solution was "beginning to take shape" though the intervention against pro-Gaddafi forces had seen no quick end.

Like what happened in the National Assembly, a large majority of the senators, including those of the ruling party UMP and the opposition Socialist, let pass the bill authorizing the four-month long military intervention to continue in Libya.

But the Socialist Party has underlined the need of more efforts on political solution, setting a condition that if the military operation in Libya isn't over by September, the parliament would start a new round of debate on the issue.

Since France took the lead in launching air strikes against pro-Gaddafi troop on March 19, it has mobilized around 4,400 soldiers, 40 fighting jets, 8 vessels and 18 helicopters in the coalition operation backed first by Britain and then the NATO, according to official data.

French Defense Minister Gerard Longuet estimated that the cost of France's part in the operation had exceeded 160 million euros (223.6 million US dollars) by the end of June.

Stressing the situation on the field in Libya was "evolving positively," Fillon said a "political solution" on the issue was "beginning to take shape."

Also on the day, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe confirmed on local radio France's contacts with the Libyan government to negotiate terms of Gaddafi's exit after Gaddafi's son Seif al-Islam told an Algerian newspaper that direct negotiation between Libya and France was underway.

"Effectively, there are contacts but not a real negotiation," the minister said, adding Libyan envoys said Gaddafi's ready to go and they were willing to open discussion.

In an interview published by French daily Le Figaro on Tuesday, Libyan Prime Minister Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi said Tripoli was ready to negotiate directly with France and Gaddafi wouldn't participate in the discussion.

Meanwhile, he called on the NATO to stop military strikes in Libya first.

Source: Xinhua
 
 
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