Brus­sels talks seek united ap­proach on cri­sis West split on Libya

Townsville Bulletin - - World Snapshot -

WEST­ERN pow­ers headed into piv­otal Libya cri­sis talks yes­ter­day di­vided over a Bri­tish-French push for f o r m a l r e c o g n i t i o n o f Muam­mar Gaddafi ’ s o p - po­nents and a Paris plea for lim­ited airstrikes.

Cap­ping 48 hours of talks on Libya in­volv­ing NATO d e f e n c e m i n i s t e r s a n d Euro­pean Union f o r e i g n min­is­ters, heads of state and gov­ern­ment of the 27-nation bloc head to Brus­sels for an emer­gency sum­mit aimed at de­liv­er­ing a joint re­sponse on events in the oil-rich coun­try.

‘‘ Colonel Gaddafi must rel i nquis h p o wer i mme­di­ately,’’ the EU lead­ers said at the talks, ac­cord­ing to a draft of sum­mit con­clu­sions.

They also opted for ‘‘ con­tin­ued plan­ning with NATO All i es’ ’ t o pre­pare f or al l con­tin­gen­cies, in­clud­ing a no-fly zone.

Bri­tain and France have a draft res­o­lu­tion in hand to put to the United Na­tions Se­cu­rity Coun­cil for an air ex­clu­sion zone over the oil­rich coun­try. But the coun­cil re­mains split on the is­sue and even al­lies Ger­many and Italy have sounded words of warn­ing. ‘‘ We do not want to get sucked into a war in No r t h Af r i c a , ’ ’ G e r ma n F o r e i g n Mini s t e r Gui d o Wester­welle said.

At the two-day NATO de­fence min­is­ters’ talks that be­gan on Thurs­day, the al­liance agreed to send more ships to­wards Libya’s coast. But it de­layed any de­ci­sion on im­pos­ing a no-fly zone, say­ing clear UN ap­proval for mil­i­tary ac­tion was needed first. ‘‘ There is no rush to move for­ward with­out the UN,’’ the EU’s for­eign pol­icy chief Cather­ine Ash­ton said as the bloc tight­ened the screws on Colonel Gaddafi with new sanc­tions tar­get­ing key Tripoli firms.

On mil­i­tary as well as on po­lit­i­cal op­tions t owards Libya and the Arab world at l arge, Europe needed t o move in con­cert with the re­gion, no­tably the Arab League, which meets i n Cairo this week­end.

‘‘ The Arab world has lead,’’ Ms Ash­ton said.

The EU’s top diplo­mat had no crit­i­cism of France’s sur­prise de­ci­sion to recog­nise Libya’s op­po­si­tion as the coun­try’s right­ful rep­re­sen­ta­tive. Recog­ni­tion of gov-

to ern­ments was ‘‘ a ques­tion for mem­ber states’’, she said.

B u t P r e s i d e n t Ni c o l a s Sar koz y ’ s s ud­den move, along with his call for aerial ac­tion, cast a pall over talks be­tween the bloc’s for­eign min­is­ters on Thurs­day.

‘‘ Recog­ni­tion should be a Euro­pean, not a na­tional, de­ci­sion,’’ said Italy’s For­eign Min­is­ter Franco Frat­tini.

Ber­lin too ob­jected, with Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel not only taken aback at F r a n c e ’ s r e c o g n i t i o n o f Libya’s op­po­si­tion but also warn­ing against ‘‘ use of mil­i­tary means’’.

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