Arabs to urge UN to impose no-fly zone on Libya

17:44, March 13, 2011      

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The Arab League (AL) on Saturday decided in an emergency meeting to urge the UN Security Council to impose a no-fly zone on Libya to protect the citizens.

The AL held the emergency meeting in its Cairo headquarters at the ministerial level on Saturday to discuss the serious situation in Libya with a no-fly zone proposal on the agenda.

In a statement released after the closed-door meeting, Arab foreign ministers called on the UN Security Council to take its responsibility toward imposing a no-fly zone over Libya and provide safe area to protect the Libyan people.

This decision came as a regional endorsement of a no-fly zone, which was demanded by Libyan rebel forces amid continuing fighting against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's 42-year old rule.

The decision was welcomed by all Arab countries except Algeria and Syria, according to an Arab diplomatic source.

The statement said ministers decided in the session to open communication channels with Libya's rebel Transitional National Council based in Benghazi.

The ministers appealed to the international community to provide urgent humanitarian aid to the Libyan people.

AL general secretary Amr Moussa said in a press conference after the meeting that the decision was a precautionary and humanitarian measure to protect the Libyan people, adding it was not to give a license to any foreign military intervention.

"If the Libyan regime accepts the no-fly zone decision, there won't be any kind of deterioration of the conflict, and we don't expect that Libya will refuse the UN resolution," said Youssef bin Alawi, the Omani foreign minister who chaired the meeting.

Security Council's action will be protective and will end when the Libyan crisis is resolved, bin Alawi added.

The six Gulf Cooperation Council countries, which are also members of the AL, were in favor of imposing the no-fly zone. They described Gaddafi's leadership as "illegitimate" on Thursday and called for dialogue with the Transitional National Council.

"The communication and cooperation with the Libyan transitional council is regarded as an acknowledgement of legitimacy," Moussa said.

In his opening speech, bin Alawi urged Arab nations to interfere before the situation aggravates to the worst, saying rapid action from the Arab states is required to avoid more bloodshed in Libya in accordance with the international legitimacy.

Catherine Ashton, EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, said on Saturday she will meet AL Moussa on Sunday to discuss the situation in Libya and the wider north African region.

Ashton emphasized the importance of a "collaborative approach" with the AL.

On Feb. 22, the AL suspended Libya's participation in its future meeting and affiliated bodies after the bloody clashes swept the country since Feb. 16, until Libya authorities respond to people's demands.

The UN Security Council on Feb. 26 unanimously adopted a resolution to impose sanctions on Libya, including an arms embargo against the Libyan authorities and travel ban and asset freeze directed at Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and his key family members.

Source: Xinhua
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